Malmö’s commuter-belt Moderates back talks with populists

The Moderate party mayors of three wealthy municipalities near Malmö have called for the party to enter into discussions with the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats.

Malmö's commuter-belt Moderates back talks with populists
Pia Almström, Mayor of Kävlinge, would support Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson if he began talks with the Sweden Democrats. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT
Pia Almström, the mayor of Kävlinge, 30 kilometres north of Malmö, told The Local that she would support the Moderates' party leader Ulf Kristersson if he decided to enter into negotiations with the populist party, which has until now been a pariah in Swedish politics owing to its extremist, neo-Nazi origins. 
“If it was necessary to get rid of the Social Democrats I would support it,” she told The Local. “For me what's most important is that we get rid of Stefan Löfven as Prime Minister and that in Malmö, we get a change in control. It's a catastrophe the way Malmö's been managed for the past 15-20 years.” 
Carina Wutzler, the mayor of the wealthy district of Vellinge, told Sweden's state broadcaster SVT that she did not believe her party would be able to take power nationally without negotiating and cooperating with the Sweden Democrats. 
“Negotiation and cooperation with the Swedish Democrats is going to be necessary if we are to establish a government,” she said. “We should listen honestly and openly to the Sweden Democrats. If we want to enact Moderate policies, we must be open to discussion.” 
Wutzler has built a national profile in Sweden after her party moved to institute Sweden's first begging ban, only to have it struck down by a court. 
Christian Sonesson, the mayor of Staffanstorp, also backed talks with the party. 
Almström said that people in Sweden were too fixated on the Sweden Democrats, blinding them to the damage done locally and nationally by the Social Democrats. 
“I think we talk too much about the Sweden Democrats and too little about driving through our own policies. All the discussion is about SD, but we don't talk about the long queues in hospital or the poor elderly care we have in Malmö.” 
The team of election officials tallying the final 4,300 municipal votes in Malmö finished their count on Wednesday night without bringing the ruling Social Democrats or their allies the extra mandate they need to hold onto power in the city. 
The Moderate Party, together with the Centre Party, the Liberal Party and the Sweden Democrats now have 31 seats in the city government, one more than the left-wing parties.
This means that if the Alliance parties hold together, the Moderates' municipal leader Torbjörn Tegnhammar can replace the Social Democrats' Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh as the city's mayor. 
However, the Sweden Democrats' local municipal leader Magnus Olsson has already complicated the plan by telling the local Sydsvenskan newspaper that his party would present demands to Malmö's new Alliance government ahead of voting for the city's budget later this autumn.  
“That is the opposite of what Magnus Olsson told me,” Tegnhammar told Sydsvenskan on Tuesday. “We will not negotiate or cooperate with the Sweden Democrats.”

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