Political turmoil in Sweden
Since the two competitors about the Prime Minister's post - Stefan Lofven and Ulf Kristersson - had their first talks with the speaker of parliament it’s become clear that the positions among the blocs are still locked. All things considered, the new speaker of parliament, Andreas Norlén, is faced with a complicated task. Sweden seems to be heading towards a government in a form that the country hasn’t seen in a long time.

Things may have already changed, but this condensed report explains what has happened after the general election on Sept 9. What happens next Since the election offered no clear winner among the blocs, a mandatory confidence vote was taken when Riksdagen, the Swedish parliament, opened on Tuesday, Sept. 25. As expected, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven fell in the historic vote. A majority did not have confidence in Löfven as prime minister; the four Alliance parties and the Sweden Democrats voted no.


A first for Sweden
Never before in Swedish history has the Riksdag dropped a prime minister in a vote of confidence. Löfven has been able to govern since 2014 in spite of not holding a majority in parliament because the alliance parties so far refrained from taking the Sweden Democrats’ support to trap him. The fact that the Alliance joined SD in an effort to replace the red-green government is unprecedented. Early commentary by the Alliance has confirmed the group will not seek support by the Sweden Democrats but nevertheless plans to push forward the Moderate party leader Ulf Kristersson as most likely prime minister candidate.

Electing a Prime Minister
The new speaker of parliament, Andreas Norlén, a member of the Moderate party who now holds the bipartisan speaker assignment, started the so-called speaker rounds on Sept. 27 and spoke with representatives of all parties. He has a difficult task: to submit a proposal to parliament of who will be the next prime minister and form a government. He stated to the press that he expected more discussions with party leaders. “Without revealing a state secret, I can tell not everyone is agreeing on who our next prime minister should be,” he said.
During the speaker’s conversation with Löfven, the former prime minister was clear that the passing of a state budget has to be weighed into the current deliberations. The red-greens have a mandate more than the alliance parties and would be able to reject a budget prepared by the alliance parties unless the Sweden Democrats were to support it.
“The ability to pass a budget in parliament is absolutely crucial in order to form the new government. You simply have to have enough support in the Riksdag,” Löfven said. He continued: “For the Riksdag to elect a prime minister who only survives until the budget vote would be doing Sweden a disservice.”
Moderate party leader Ulf Kristersson, however, does not believe such guarantees can be issued in advance. He says it’s now about selecting a prime minister candidate who can be accepted by the Riksdag. “It will be every governments’ natural desire and aim to get their budget to pass. But, under the present parliamentary situation to also demand that you’re 100 percent sure your budget will pass parliament, I think is not realistic.”

To do or not to ...
Liberal party leader Jan Björklund has been mildly critical of the Moderate party, which he feels is opening up for cooperation with the Sweden Democrats. ”A government must have some sort of consensus among the blocs to succeed. The liberals will not join a government that will take over on November 1 to then resign in December. It’s the wrong way to show responsibility for Sweden,“ he said.
Björklund expects the negotiations will take time and pointed to Germany as an example for receiving a coalition government after a full six months of deliberations. He also urged the speaker to select a next prime minister soon.
The Liberal and Center parties in the Alliance would like to start discussions about cooperation between the Alliance and the Social Democrats (S). The hope is to form an Alliance government that can cooperate with S on different issues.
Stefan Löfven, who now heads a transitional government as the Social Democrat’s leader, continues to say his party will not be a support party to an Alliance government.
The Christian Democrats feel the Alliance parties should try to form a government, even if a cooperation with S is not possible. That government would then depend on the Sweden Democrats voting on the Alliance’s proposals on all issues where the red-greens have a different opinion.

To be continued
Speaker Norlén hasn’t been clear about his expectations for passing the budget in order to form a new government. He says there are two schools of thought: “I have not yet made a decision ... there are two schools, one that deals with negative parliamentarism, where it is enough not to have a majority against you. The decision-making requirement for a budget is higher. And if you connect them, some will say you undermine the negative parliamentary system and introduce positive parliamentarism. But to govern, you need to be able to pass your policies.”
The next round of talks with party leaders has been scheduled for Oct. 1.
Ulf Barslund Martensson