The Daily Telegraph

Swedish PM resigns with plea to keep far Right out

Departing leader urges rivals to avoid coalition offer after surge in votes for Sweden Democrats

- By Jörg Luyken

SWEDEN’S outgoing prime minister urged her rivals not to work with the far Right as she resigned yesterday after shock election results triggered efforts to keep the Sweden Democrats out.

Magdalena Andersson, head of the Social Democrats, told the leader of the Moderate party not to offer the Sweden Democrats a chance to govern in a coalition, adding: “You have a special responsibi­lity to ensure that such things are not legitimise­d.”

The Sweden Democrats caused a political earthquake by becoming the second largest party in the Riksdag, winning 20.5 per cent of the vote. Although it has modernised in recent years, the party is tainted by its roots in the Swedish neo-nazi movement of the 1980s. Ulf Kristersso­n, 58, the leader of the Moderates, is tasked with building a new government after his informal Right-wing bloc, which includes the Sweden Democrats, won a wafer-thin majority of three seats.

Mr Kristersso­n said on Wednesday that he would “now begin the work of forming a new and strong government”, promising that “now we will restore order in Sweden!”

Jimmie Akesson, the Sweden Democrats leader, told his followers after the election that the time had come to “make Sweden good again”. But the road to forming a new government is set to be rocky.

The Liberals, who barely scraped back into parliament, have said that they will not sit around a cabinet table with the far Right, meaning Mr Kristersso­n may have to build a minority government reliant on informal cooperatio­n with the Sweden Democrats.

The Sweden Democrats are only likely to accept such an arrangemen­t though if a long list of demands are met, analysts say. First though, major policy difference­s between the parties on issues such as internatio­nal aid and migration laws will have to be bridged.

The Sweden Democrats, set up in the 1980s, only made it into the Swedish Riksdag in 2010, when they secured just under six per cent of the vote.

Initially shunned by all the other parties, they have increased their vote share at every subsequent election, leading the Moderates to controvers­ially explore cooperatio­n with them in 2019.

The Sweden Democrats have meanwhile attempted to clean up their image, by kicking out members who make blatantly racist comments and moderating some of their more radical policies.

At the same time they still want to restrict social security benefits to only Swedish and EU citizens, while Mr Akesson has said that he wants to reduce the number of asylum seekers to “close to zero”.

Polling showed that voters identified most with the Sweden Democrats’ stance on immigratio­n.

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