The role of right-wing populists in forming a government

ulf Kristersson has taken an important step towards the change of power in Sweden done – the speaker of Parliament Andreas Norlén has tasked the leader of the bourgeois moderates with sounding out a new government. Kristersson said he wanted to form a government "that unites, not divides." He did not reveal what this government should look like. Not even what role the right-wing populists should play in the future.

Matthias Wysuwa

Political correspondent for northern Germany and Scandinavia based in Hamburg.

On Monday, just over a week after the election, Norlén received the leaders of all parties in the Reichstag, one after the other. Only Magdalena Andersson, the leader of the Social Democrats, was not invited: she had submitted her resignation as prime minister. Kristersson was the first to sit in Norlén's office for coffee and water, but the next guest made it clear how difficult it will be to form a government: Jimmie Åkesson, the leader of the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats, came along. At the press conference afterwards, he made it clear that he was demanding a high price for his support.

Minority governments are the norm

With a good 20 percent, the Sweden Democrats had risen to become the second strongest behind the Social Democrats. Kristersson's moderates relegated her to third place. But with the centre-right, with 176 seats, just ahead of the centre-left, with 173, Kristersson now has a chance to become prime minister. The fact that the Sweden Democrats, who were shunned in parliament until a few years ago, cannot derive a claim to the post of prime minister from their strength is obvious – no other party would tolerate that. But since Kristersson needs your support, negotiations about the price have long since begun.

Åkesson made it clear again on Monday that his inaugural offer includes a formal stake in the government: He assumes that Sweden would benefit greatly from a majority government, he said. He spoke of long-term plans, of a chance "to break the hundred-year-old social-democratic hegemony in Sweden".

Ulf Kristersson at his party's election party on the night of September 11-12

Ulf Kristersson at his party's election party on the night of September 11-12

Image: Bloomberg

The history of Swedish democracy not only includes the long dominance of the Social Democrats, but also the minority government as the norm. That should also be Kristersson's goal. After all, it makes a difference whether you let right-wing populists support you - or bring them into government.

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