Ulf Kristersson, head of Sweden’s center-right Moderate party, will try to get parliament’s support on Wednesday to form the country’s next government with the support of the Christian Democrats.
However, Kristersson’s chances of success appear fragile with his erstwhile partners in the center-right Alliance expressing reservations about a fragile minority government that would be over-reliant on external support from the far-right Sweden Democrats to push through legislation.
Sweden has been in deadlock since the general election on September 9 delivered a hung parliament. Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven has remained in place since then as caretaker prime minister.
“I have chosen to stand despite the obvious risk of not being accepted this time,” Kristersson said Monday. In comments published on Facebook, the Moderate leader said he would form “a government that does not negotiate its policy with the Sweden Democrats or Left Party.”
Under Riksdag rules, only votes against Kristersson will count in Wednesday’s vote, which means that if 175 of the parliament’s 349 MPs reject him, his mooted coalition will fall.
The Sweden Democrats are expected to abstain, which would effectively mean support for Kristersson. The Social Democrats — who remain the biggest party — and their Green and Left allies, as well as the Liberals who sit on the other side of the house with the Moderates, the Center Party and the Christian Democrats, are all ranged against him for Wednesday’s vote.
Liberal leader Jan Björklund said: “We support Ulf Kristersson as prime minister, but we will not vote for his suggested government option on Wednesday. This solution would be very dependent on the Sweden Democrats, and we are not prepared to give them such influence.”
To have any hope of succeeding, Kristersson and the Christian Democrats would have to convince the Center Party not to vote against them, but Center Party leader Annie Lööf said it is “unlikely” her group would support Kristersson’s initiative.
Ebba Busch Thor, leader of the Christian Democrats, criticized the liberals and centrists for “not doing what is best for Sweden in this situation.” She said Wednesday’s vote is a chance to “choose the path and choose the policy that we consider best for Sweden.”
Even without opposition from the Center Party, 166 MPs appear set to vote against Kristersson, taking into account all Social Democrat, Green, Left and Liberal seats.
According to the Riksdag’s website, the assembly has never previously rejected a first proposal for prime minister from the speaker of parliament. If MPs do so on Wednesday, Riksdag speaker Andreas Norlén then has three more chances to put forward a candidate — failing which, snap elections will be triggered within three months. That has only happened once in the history of Swedish democracy, in 1958.
Kristersson’s latest attempt to form a government follows previous failed attempts by Löfven and Kristersson himself to form workable coalitions.