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Swedish opposition leader: ‘Why I’m prepared to work with the Sweden Democrats’

The de facto leader of Sweden's right-wing opposition, who three years ago vowed never to work with the Sweden Democrats, has said the anti-immigration party has become more 'serious' in its politics.

Swedish opposition leader: 'Why I'm prepared to work with the Sweden Democrats'
Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson speaking with the Christian Democrats' Ebba Busch, while the Sweden Democrats' Jimmie Åkesson looks on in the background. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Speaking on public broadcaster SVT's programme 30 minuter, the leader of the conservative Moderates, Ulf Kristersson, said: “I think the Sweden Democrats' rhetoric has changed a lot over recent years. They have branched out politically and take part much more seriously in parliamentary work.”

In particular, he said they had been “constructive” during work on the pandemic, law and order, migration and some aspects of energy politics. 

Kristersson said his party currently has no intention to form a coalition with the Sweden Democrats. But it's the latest step in warming relations towards the far-right party, after the two parties' leaders had their first meeting last year.

It stands in contrast with statements he made previously on the idea of collaboration with the anti-immigration party. As recently as January 2018, Kristersson said: “My values are not the Sweden Democrats'. I will not work together with them, speak with them, govern with them.”

In the 2018 election, neither of the two main blocs (one including the Moderates and three other right-of-centre parties, the other including the governing centre-left coalition) won enough votes to govern alone. In order for either coalition to govern, they needed other parties to either support them in a parliamentary vote or at least offer passive support by abstaining. 

This led to a split in the centre-right coalition, after the Moderates and the Christian Democrats were prepared to accept passive support from the Sweden Democrats. Their two coalition partners, the Centre and Liberal parties were not willing to be part of a government relying on the Sweden Democrats, so instead offered passive support to the centre-left coalition which is now in power.

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POLITICS

Swedish PM’s top aide resigns over illegal eel fishing

One of Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson's top aides has resigned from his post after it emerged that he had been fined by police for illegally fishing for eels and had twice lied to the authorities about what happened.

Swedish PM's top aide resigns over illegal eel fishing

PM Nilsson lied twice to police about eel fishing equipment he was caught with, the second time after he was appointed as state secretary at the end of October. 

After the resignation, Kristersson said he was disappointed that Nilsson, who had previously been a columnist for the Dagens Industri newspaper, had had to step down. 

“I think of course that it is unfortunate that this situation has come about, but I understand his decision,” he said in a written comment to the TT newswire. “PM Nilsson has been a highly appreciated member of the team and is a highly competent person. We are going to miss him.” 

READ ALSO: Why a political aide’s eel denial is causing friction in Sweden

Nilsson announced his decision on Facebook, saying that he had already apologised and paid the fines. 

“I understand how improper it is to fish for eels without a permit and to not tell things as they were to the authorities, even if I have since then rung the police and admitted that I had caught 15 fish,” he wrote in the post. 

Nilsson was recently fined for poaching eel in 2021, and has admitted to having lied to police in a conversation just before Christmas when he claimed that the eel-fishing equipment he had been caught with was not his. He later regretted this decision and informed the police.  

In his Facebook post, Nilsson referred to media reports that police were now investigating him for a further crime of contravening a law to protect endangered species, saying he did not know if this were the case. 

The opposition Social Democrats on Monday referred Ulf Kristersson to the parliament’s Committee on the Constitution, requiring him to explain the situation around Nilsson, and about whether Kristersson knew of the poaching incident when he appointed him, and also on the security vetting which took place. 

“We need to get clarity about how the process of recruiting him took place,” Ardalan Shekarabi, the party’s justice spokesman, said. “What we are chiefly reacting against is that the state secretary lied to the authorities.”

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