Gridlock Has Swedish Nationalists Now Hoping for a New Election
(Bloomberg) -- The political establishment is showing little appetite for compromise as the nationalist power-brokers are now hoping for a new election almost two months after Sweden’s inconclusive vote.
Mired in gridlock, the speaker of parliament on Monday took over the process on forming a government after more than a month of talks led nowhere. The willingness to compromise has been “limited,” Speaker Andreas Norlen said at a press conference in parliament.
He will now lead group talks, starting as soon as Tuesday with an attempt at forming a grand coalition and then explore three other potential governments: A Social Democrat, Green, Center and Liberal variety; an opposition Alliance and Green Party coalition; and a pure Alliance government.
He declined to set a deadline on the talks. “But its timing is not without end,” Norlen said. “We have to see a vote in parliament at some point. It could be the only thing that breaks the deadlock.”
Urgency is building after acting Prime Minister Stefan Lofven on Monday abandoned his attempt to form a government, marking another setback after last month’s election. The failure of the 61-year-old Social Democrat followed an unsuccessful two-week try by opposition Alliance leader Ulf Kristersson.
Kristersson on Monday demanded that the proposals be brought to a parliament vote, warning that Swedes will soon lose patience after what has been record-long government formation process. “We have to test our opinions in a real-life situation,” he said.
There’s no set deadline for how long talks can take. The speaker has yet to call for a formal vote in parliament, which has to happen four times before a new election is called.
Jimmie Akesson, the leader of the nationalist Sweden Democrats, on Monday also urged the speaker to speed up the process and bring it to parliament. The analysis within his party is that it would ultimately gain from a new election, he said.
“We won’t allow any government that doesn’t give us influence,” he said.
Both Kristersson and Lofven said they remain at the speaker’s disposal to form a government.
Sweden is struggling to find a viable government after a nationalist party emerged as a power-broker in last month’s election. Neither of the establishment sides has so far been willing to make the necessary compromises to work across the bloc lines.
Ending in a new election would be a “defeat” for the political establishment, Norlen said.
Lofven on Monday said he saw no viable way forward to form a Social Democratic-led government and that the situation remains locked.
After Lofven and Kristersson’s failures, it had been speculated on that the role of trying to forge a compromise would fall to Center Party leader Annie Loof.
But Loof on Monday reiterated that Kristersson remains her main prime minister candidate and that she’s working for an Alliance government. The Center leader also declined to directly comment on whether she would be prepared to take over the government process, saying she stands ready “to contribute to unlocking the situation.”
The acting premier has been trying to lure over two smaller parties in the center-right Alliance, the Center and Liberal parties, to form a majority.
Lofven’s center-left coalition has a one a seat lead over the Alliance, but has no real path forward because the nationalists have tended to support the center-right bloc. The center-right has also painted itself in a corner since the Center and Liberals have said they will not rule with the backing of the nationalist Sweden Democrats due to its neo-Nazi roots.
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