Sweden’s PM looks to Greens to retain power

SWEDEN’S prime minister sought help from the opposition Greens yesterday to avoid a political deadlock after an Islam-bashing far-right group spoiled his centre-right government’s control of Parliament.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s coalition won Sunday’s election but lost its majority in the 349-seat legislature, weakening its ability to push through crucial legislation.

The Sweden Democrats, a small nationalist party, entered parliament for the first time, winning 20 seats to hold the balance of power between the 172 seats captured by the four-party centre-right bloc and the 154 seats taken by the three-party leftist opposition, according to preliminary returns.

Reinfeldt has primarily reached out to the Green Party because he has vowed not to govern with the Sweden Democrats, who demand sharp cuts in immigration and have called Islam Sweden’s greatest foreign threat since World War II.

However, Green Party leaders Peter Eriksson and Maria Wetterstrand, who campaigned with the Social Democrats and the ex-communist Left Party, said they didn’t feel they had the mandate from voters to enter into a close collaboration with the centre-right

“If Fredrik Reinfeldt contacts us, we will suggest a deeper and wider discussion with all the (opposition) parties,” Eriksson told a press conference yesterday.

“It would be strange if the biggest party in parliament didn’t participate in such a discussion,” he added, referring to the Social Democrats, which got 30.9% of votes – 0.9 percentage points more than Reinfeldt’s Moderate Party.

The prime minister said he wouldn’t start any formal talks until after the final tally and said he would use all the time until the required declaration of government on October 5 to consider his options.

“We obviously need to talk to each other. Not through the media, but with each other, and that is the way I will proceed,” Reinfeldt told reporters.

“Our ambition is to work in parliament with increased collaborations with the Green Party, although I can also see several issues where traditionally, as you know, it has been the centre-right and the Social Democrats who have been in agreement,” he added.

Analysts said talks across the political divide were necessary for Reinfeldt to continue ruling with a minority government.

“The idea (is) the Green Party should step over and enter some kind of deal with the centre-right,” said Stig-Bjorn Ljunggren, a political scientist.

He said the governing coalition would have to change some key policies to win over the Greens, including plans to build new nuclear reactors and restrict sickness benefits.

If Reinfeldt fails to solve the impasse he will be left with a fragile minority government.

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