Richard Orange, Telegraph, January 11, 2019
Sweden’s ruling coalition has struck a deal with two minority parties to maintain power and ensure that the far-Right Sweden Democrats cannot gain political influence after 124 days of deadlock.
Annie Lööf, leader of the Centre Party, said on that her party had reached “a breakthrough” in talks with the Social Democrat, Green and Liberal Parties.
She said her party’s MPs would abstain in next Wednesday’s parliamentary vote on whether Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven should serve as Sweden’s next prime minister, allowing him to continue in the role.
The four-party deal which was struck on Wednesday morning was, she said, the “best possible solution in a difficult situation” since the September election.
Winning over the Centre and Liberal parties has required the Social Democrats to make heavy concessions, with reforms promised on the country’s strict “last in, first out” labour laws as well as major tax cuts.
“We have broken through in a big way with Liberal and Centre Party policies,” Ms Lööf said, claiming to have agreed “a powerful green tax reform which will push forward higher green taxes in exchange for reductions in tax for jobs and companies.”
During the election campaign, Ms Lööf said she would rather eat one of her shoes than serve in a government led by Mr Löfven, and she dramatically broke off talks in December accusing the Social Democrats of making “skambud”, a bid that is so much lower than what is expected that it is shameful.
Nicholas Aylott, associate professor at Södertorn University, said that the deal enabled Sweden’s main parties to maintain their ‘cordon sanitaire’ strategy towards the populist Sweden Democrats, who won 17.5 per cent of the vote in September, but warned that it might come at a cost.
“In the short term it shuts them out, but in the medium and long term it may well presage the formation of a more conservative bloc on the Right of the spectrum,” he said. “I think that [Sweden Democrat leader] Jimmie Åkesson may not be shedding too many tears tonight.”
The deal also marks a victory for Social Democrat leader Mr Löfven who has long sought to split the four-party centre-right Alliance bloc, which has challenged the Social Democrats for dominance in Swedish politics ever since its formation in 2004.
“We Social Democrats believe that an agreement between our parties will protect democracy and take Sweden forward by carrying out necessary reforms,” Mr Löfven said in a statement.
The Liberal Party’s leadership committee and parliamentary group will meet on Saturday to discuss whether to endorse the deal.
On Monday, the parliamentary speaker Andreas Norlén, is likely to propose Mr Löfven as prime minister, with the vote going before parliament on Wednesday.