Center-right leader asked to form new government in Sweden

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Ulf Kristersson

Moderate party leader Ulf Kristersson delivers a speech at the Moderate party election watch at the Clarion Sign Hotel late Sunday night, Sept. 11, 2022. An exit poll projected that Sweden’s ruling left-wing Social Democrats have won the most votes in a general election Sunday, while a right-wing populist party had its best showing yet. (Fredrik Sandberg/TT News Agency via AP)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The leader of Sweden’s third largest party — the center-right Moderates — on Monday was formally asked to attempt to form a government that could include the populist Sweden Democrats, either inside a governing coalition or outside to secure a majority.

In Sweden’s Sept. 11 election, the country’s four center-right parties won 176 seats while the center-left coalition that included the ruling Social Democrats got 173 seats. Following that, Andreas Norlen, the speaker of the 349-seat Swedish parliament, the Riksdagen, asked Ulf Kristersson, the leader of the Moderates, to see if he can form a governing coalition.

Norlen who has held talks with all party leaders about who could try to form a governing coalition, said he didn’t name a date before which Kristersson should come back with an answer because that could take time.

“My message to the speaker has been that everything is going well,” Kristersson told reporters after meeting with Norlen. “I want to form a government that unites, not divides.”

The leader of the Sweden Democrats, Jimmie Akesson, said after meeting Norlen on Monday added that “it would suit Sweden to have with a majority government. That is my take.”

The question is now what coalition can reach a majority. One of the center-right parties has said it does not want to be in a coalition with the right-wing Sweden Democrats, a party founded in the 1980s by far-right extremists that now is the country’s second-largest in parliament.

Different center-right constellations are possible but it seems clear that the Sweden Democrats will have significant leverage in any center-right government.

The populist party has tried to move toward the mainstream in recent years, standing this year on a platform of cracking down on crime and strictly limiting immigration.

Sweden in recent years has seen an increase in gang violence and this year there have been 273 shootings, 47 of them fatal, according to police statistics. The shootings also wounded 74 people, including innocent bystanders.

Last week, Sweden’s Social Democratic Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson acknowledged losing the election. She will continue in a caretaking capacity until a new government is formed.

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