Sweden's PM resigns as Moderate Party starts forming government with right-wing ally

Sweden's PM resigns as Moderate Party starts forming government with right-wing ally
The leader of Sweden's conservatives, Ulf Kristersson, was working to form a new government on Thursday after a narrow election win by a coalition of right and far-right parties.
3 min read
15 September, 2022
The election of the new head of government cannot take place before September 27 at the earliest, when parliament re-opens [source: Getty]

Sweden's outgoing Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has handed in her resignation to the speaker of parliament, she said on Thursday, paving the way for a change of government.

The speaker is now expected to give the head of Sweden's Moderate Party, Ulf Kristersson, a mandate to form a new government after Sunday's general election, which gave the right-wing bloc a majority. 

"I now begin the work of forming a new and strong government," Kristersson said on Wednesday as vote tallies were being finalised. "Now we will restore order in Sweden!"

With 176 seats - 73 of them going to the far-right Sweden Democrats -- the four-party coalition will have a slim majority over the left, which won 173, according to a tally by the country's elections authority that includes 99.9 percent of voting offices.

Sunday's election was so close that it took until Wednesday for tens of thousands of votes from abroad and those cast in advance to be counted to validate the results.

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Speaking at a press conference, Andersson, leader of the Social Democrats, noted that the right would enjoy a "narrow majority, but a majority nonetheless".

Never before has a Swedish government relied on the support of the anti-immigration and nationalist Sweden Democrats, who became the big winners of the vote.

With the vast majority of votes counted, the party emerged as Sweden's second largest behind the Social Democrats, who have dominated Swedish politics since the 1930s.

However, the post of prime minister will in all likelihood go to Kristersson, as Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Akesson is unable to unite all four parties to head the government.

Kristersson, a former gymnast, led a major U-turn for his party when initiating exploratory talks in 2019 with the Sweden Democrats and then deepening their cooperation.

The Christian Democrats, and to a lesser extent the Liberals, later followed suit.

At the same time the thorny question remains of whether the far-right would be given cabinet posts, which Akesson said on Sunday was their "goal".

In a post to Facebook on Wednesday, Akesson thanked "friends of Sweden" around the country, and noted that negotiating a new government was "a process that will take the time it needs".

"Now the work begins of making Sweden great again," the party leader said.

The head of Italy's anti-immigrant League, Matteo Salvini, hailed the party's success.

"Even in beautiful and democratic Sweden, the left is defeated and sent home," Salvini said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Sweden Democrats rose up out of neo-Nazi groups and the "Keep Sweden Swedish" movement in the early 1990s, entering parliament in 2010 with 5.7 percent of votes.