Swedens Far-Right Victors Pose Challenge

Sweden Democrats won 20% of the seats in the country's parliament and will likely dictate the next government's policy agenda.

Ulf Kristersson, the leader of Sweden’s Moderate Party, must pull off a neat trick in forming a new Coalition government that could possibly include the extreme right-wing anti-immigration party, Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna or SD).

Sweden’s September 11 parliamentary elections changed the political landscape in this most laissez-faire Nordic state, after the Sweden Democrats won 20% of the seats in the Riksdag, the national parliament. The ousted Social Democrats will continue in a caretaking capacity until a new government is installed some time this month.

How to construct a stable government with the SDs as a coalition partner? The senior ranks of the Liberals and the Christian Democrats are less than enthused about sharing power with a far-right party that ran on an anti-immigration and tough-on-gang-crime agenda.

On the other hand, Kristersson can not ignore the SD’s emergence as a force in Swedish politics. That election result gives the SD serious leverage in the government formation negotiations and in any new center-right government.

Kristersson will hope to shape a new government from the country’s four liberal-conservative parties, which together eked out a bare majority in the 349-seat Riksdag. Kristersson will attempt to establish a Coalition that comprises the Moderates, the Christian Democrats, the Liberals and the Sweden Democrats.

The SD could refuse to join a coalition of three or four parties, led by moderates, should they fail to agree on a policy agenda that includes tight limits on immigration and more stringent laws to deal with the upsurge in gang-related violence. According to the latest police statistics, 274 gang-related shootings resulted in 48 deaths in Sweden since January 2022. Growing public anger over the now daily gang shootings on Swedish streets proved to be the bedrock on which the SD mined its success in the September 11 election.

In the government formation talks, Kristersson will be cognizant of the need to deal with record levels of gang violence and criminality but resistant to SD pressure to move politics and government in free-thinking, libertarian Sweden too far to the right.