Three center-right parties in Sweden have agreed to form a minority coalition which will rely on parliamentary support from far-right party Sweden Democrats, a decision that has prompted fierce criticism due to the neo-Nazi roots of the party.
The leader of the Moderates party, Ulf Kristersson, said his party would form a government with the Liberals and the Christian Democrats following a tightly-fought election in which there was no clear winner.
Kristersson also confirmed that the Sweden Democrats would not be a formal member of the coalition but had agreed to help shape its policy in exchange for backing it in parliament.
“Change is not only necessary, change is also possible, and we four parties together can offer that change”, said the Moderates leader, who is expected to lead the coalition as prime minister.
Kristersson met with the parliament’s speaker and a confirmation vote is scheduled for Monday. With the four right-wing parties holding a slim majority with 176 seats in the 349-member parliament the vote is expected to pass without issue.
The new government’s 50-page coalition agreement contains proposals to cut taxes and cap welfare benefits but is also heavy on law-and-order, with plans to take tougher action against criminal gangs. The agreement also includes plans to build more new nuclear power plants.
The Sweden Democrats will now play a direct role in policy for the first time in its history, a situation that would have been unthinkable less than a decade ago with the anti-immigration party a pariah in Swedish politics.
The party was founded by neo-Nazis and other far-right activists, but in recent years has made efforts to appeal to a mainstream audience under current leader Jimmie Åkesson and has expelled more extreme elements.