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Sweden parties agree to form govt with far-right backing – Science-Environment News – Report by AFR

Three Swedish right-wing parties will build a minority government with the unprecedented backing of the far-right Sweden Democrats, the four parties said Friday, immediately unveiling plans to construct new nuclear reactors as well as crack down on crime and immigration.

The incoming government will be made up of the Moderates, Christian Democrats and Liberals, with the far-right Sweden Democrats remaining outside the coalition but providing key support in parliament.

The four presented a roadmap Friday for their cooperation, outlining measures to address rising crime, immigration, energy policy, healthcare, education and the economy.

“Change is not just necessary, but possible, and the four of us can deliver that”, conservative Moderates leader Ulf Kristesson told reporters.

Parliament will vote on Kristersson as the new prime minister on Monday and the future government is expected to take office on Tuesday, just over a month after the right-wing won a narrow victory in a general election that ousted the Social Democrats after eight years in power.

The four right-wing parties together hold 176 of 349 seats in parliament.

The anti-immigration and nationalist Sweden Democrats, once shunned as pariahs on Sweden’s political scene, were the big winners of the September 11 vote.

They emerged as the country’s second-largest party with a record 20.5 percent of votes, behind outgoing prime minister Magdalena Andersson’s Social Democrats, which have dominated Swedish politics since the 1930s.

While far-right leader Jimmie Akesson said he “would have preferred to sit in government”, he stressed that most important was that his party, as the biggest right-wing party, have influence over policy.

“We are going to deliver policy, especially in those areas our voters think are extra important, and crime policy is one such area”, he told reporters.

– Concessions –

While the quartet presented a united front on Friday, they have traditionally been divided on a number of key policy areas and major concessions were made in the agreement, primarily to meet the far-right’s demands.

Sweden has struggled to contain soaring gang shootings and violence, and the roadmap calls for an introduction of visitation zones in some disadvantaged areas, harsher sentences for repeat offenders, double sentences for certain crimes and anonymous witnesses — all major concessions by the small Liberal party.

The incoming government also plans to make major cuts in Sweden’s generous refugee policy, reducing the number of quota refugees from 6,400 last year to 900 per year during its four-year mandate.

It will also ditch Sweden’s development aid target of one percent of gross national income and introduce a national ban on begging.

The four parties also agreed to not reduce unemployment benefits, a major concession to the far-right by the Moderates.

“What has been most important to the Sweden Democrats is that the change of government represent a paradigm shift”, Akesson said.

Meanwhile, the future government also announced plans to build new nuclear reactors to meet the country’s rising electricity needs.

“New nuclear reactors will be built”, the leader of the Christian Democrats Ebba Busch told reporters.

“We are going to meet our end of the Paris Agreement, but without destroying companies’ and Swedish households’ finances. The goal going forward is electrification and the way there is nuclear power”, she said.

The Scandinavian country voted in a 1980 non-binding referendum to phase out nuclear power.

The country has in recent years shut down six of its 12 reactors and the remaining ones, at three nuclear power plants, generate about 30 percent of the electricity used in the country today.

But it has struggled to find viable alternative energy sources to replace nuclear power, with renewable energies not yet able to fully meet its needs.

The outgoing Social Democratic government, in power for the past eight years, has traditionally been opposed to the construction of new reactors but acknowledged earlier this year that nuclear energy would be crucial for the foreseeable future.

Swedish energy group Vattenfall said therefore in June it was examining the possibility of building at least two small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs).

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