World News

Swedish center-right leader bids to form government against the odds

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The leader of Sweden’s center-right will ask parliament for a mandate to form a minority two-party government, he said on Monday, but admitted chances of success were slim.

FILE PHOTO: Swedish Moderate party leader Ulf Kristersson gives a news conference after a meeting with the Speaker of Parliament in Stockholm, Sweden, September 27, 2018. TT News Agency/Pontus Lundahl via REUTERS

Moderate party leader Ulf Kristersson looks almost certain to lose his bid to create a government with the Christian Democrats as the other two members of his four-party Alliance oppose any set-up that would require support from the far-right Sweden Democrats.

“I have chosen to go ahead with this despite the obvious risk that this will not win acceptance in parliament,” Kristersson told a news conference. Parliament is due to vote on the proposal on Wednesday.

Parliament Speaker Andreas Norlen called the vote in the hope of breaking deadlock in parliament since a September election left the right- and left-wing blocs nearly equal in size and the shunned anti-immigration Sweden Democrats with the balance of power.

But discussions on forming a government have led nowhere and there are few signs that parties are willing to compromise.

In the center-right Alliance, the Centre and Liberal parties have ruled out any form of cooperation with the Sweden Democrats due to their hard-line anti-immigration policies and roots in the white-supremacist movement.

The Sweden Democrats in turn have demanded guarantees over the policies of any government, above all on immigration curbs.

Kristersson has sought to find the slimmest of middle ground between the two positions, pledging not to cooperate with the Sweden Democrats while proposing a policy platform that could potentially be acceptable to them without offering outright guarantees.

Seeking to pressure his recalcitrant Alliance partners, Kristersson said: “It is ironic that we are in greater agreement over policy than ever .... but we can’t agree whether we want and can implement those policies.”

(GRAPHIC - Election scenarios:

Reporting by Niklas Pollard and Johan Sennero; editing by Johannes Hellstrom and Robin Pomeroy