New government in Sweden after long struggle

More than four months after Sweden's parliamentary elections Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has been elected for a second term. He will lead a minority government consisting of Social Democrats, Greens, Liberals and members of the Centre Party. The Left Party abstained. Commentators welcome the historic alliance, but feel that the way it was achieved has harmed democracy in the country.

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Turun Sanomat (FI) /

A historic decision

It's unclear whether the cross-party cooperation can be lasting, in the opinion of Turun Sanomat:

“This government solution is historic. ... Löfven has succeeded in breaking the ranks of the conservative alliance. A cross-party cooperation has been agreed. Dissatisfaction is the most innocuous term that can be used to describe the mood in the opposition Moderate Party and among the Christian Democrats. ... The Sweden Democrats, who see this solution as offering the chance of early elections and increasing their supporters, are likely to be more satisfied. ... Time will tell if this form of cooperation is a one-off attempt or if there will be a lasting change of course in Sweden.”

Politiken (DK) /

A model alliance against the far right

The Swedish government shows that right-wing parties don't always have to wield the power, Politiken comments:

“In political Denmark it's a popular sport to criticise Sweden and insist that our Nordic brothers are taking the wrong path with their humanism. The criticism is not groundless, but perhaps the Swedes can teach the Danes a thing or two about politics - above all that it's not a natural law that right-wing nationalist parties have the right to call the shots. That a majority can choose to stand together and take a different path. And that anti-foreigner voices don't always have to win.”

Upsala Nya Tidning (SE) /

Bad for democracy

The Liberal party and the Centre party had said they wouldn't support a Social Democratic government but now they have changed their minds. Upsala Nya Tidning sees this fickle attitude as a problem for democracy:

“A survey shows that confidence in politicians has dropped among 70 percent of Swedes. ... This is understandable when the political game just looks like a struggle for personal power. Voters don't want people's representatives to fight for office just for the sake of gaining power. When politicians are focussed on political content, that's another matter. ... But how are the voters supposed to know what this power struggle is all about? Politicians and media must therefore always think carefully about how they express themselves. ... Otherwise the public debate becomes dishonest and democracy is damaged. And everyone pays a price.”

Aftonbladet (SE) /

Left Party only one acting responsibly

Aftonbladet finds it hypocritical to expect the Left Party to go along with the agreement for the sake of keeping the Sweden Democrats out of government:

“Is there anyone close to Löfven who has explained to him why parties like the SD are getting stronger in all European countries? If everyone's so scared of the SD, the Left Party should be given more influence in Swedish politics [rather than none]. You stop right-wing populism with more democracy and fewer social differences, not with tax cuts for the wealthy. That's why the Left Party is currently the only party that is taking responsibility for the country. It says no to the right-wing excesses that have been agreed between Löfven and the centre parties.”

El País (ES) /

The wrong way to stop the far right

El País sees Sweden's pact against the extremists as a further experiment on how to deal with the far right, and documents the initial results:

“Certain conclusions can already be drawn. Although this kind of pact shows a clear dividing line between democratic forces and forces that use democracy only to gain power, it can take a heavy toll on the former. We can see this in Germany, for example, where the Social Democrats have seen their support dwindle as a result of their coalition with the Christian Democrats. Nevertheless, they preferred to repeat the experiment rather than allow the far right to have any decision-making power. Secondly, it's better if the far right isn't left as the only alternative to the democratic parties, because that will also promote their strategy of growth.”

Expressen (SE) /

Who would willingly give up all influence?

Expressen doesn't believe Left Party leader Jonas Sjöstedt will agree to a deal that would strip his party of influence for four years:

“Why in the world would Sjöstedt say yes to this government? A party that actively or passively supports a government that has the express goal of rendering this party powerless has no reason to exist. ... If Sjöstedt doesn't say no his political credibility will be reduced to zero. He'll be sidelining himself. [Centre Party leader] Annie Lööf must understand this, mustn't she? She must see that she's put Sjöstedt in a position where he has a choice between saying no to this government or committing political suicide. That can only be provocation on Lööf's part.”

Aftonbladet (SE) /

Left Party playing with fire

It the Left Party blocks Löfven it will give the nationalist Sweden Democrats another chance at getting into government, warns Aftonbladet:

“Prominent representatives of the Left Party recommend bringing Löfven down. 'The Left Party that I know won't let itself be humiliated,' writes former party leader Lars Ohly in Svenska Dagbladet. If Löfven falls, all that remains is the fourth and final vote before new elections are called automatically. Given this prospect, it is likely that [conservative leader] Ulf Kristersson will be elected prime minister in parliament. ... According to recent reports, the Left Party is considering rejecting Löfven. That would mean starting all over again. Kristersson could still become prime minister and the Sweden Democrats could still gain power over Sweden [as his parliamentary support].”

Mérce (HU) /

Decades-long balance of power destroyed

The election result has ended 50 years of Swedish bloc policy between the conservative and the centre-left camps, the centre-left online website Mérce clarifies:

“There are two explanations for this historic turnaround: the continuing decline of the dominant Social Democrats over the last 20 years and the continual rise of the Sweden Democrats since their breakthrough in 2010. On the surface the Swedes face a mathematical problem: while the Social Democrats are still the strongest party by far, they are no longer large enough to rule alone on a case-by-case basis with allies. And the Sweden Democrats are too strong for any one side to be able to form a government.”