By Rita Devlin Marier (AFP) – Sep 20, 2010
STOCKHOLM — Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt pleaded for calm Monday after being re-elected at the head of a minority government, while ruling out a deal with the country's surging far-right.
Reinfeldt said he would not collaborate with the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats, now poised to hold the balance of power with 20 seats in the narrowly split parliament.
But the future make-up of the centre-right premier's government remained unclear, though he underlined he had until early October to announce his plans.
"We have obviously had a lot of questions on how this electoral result would be managed," Reinfeldt told reporters Monday, adding: "There is no need to use words like chaos."
Despite losing his parliamentary majority, Reinfeldt's coalition pulled off a historic victory Sunday as the first right-leaning government to be re-elected in Sweden in nearly a century, winning 49.3 percent of the vote for 172 of the 349 seats in the Riksdag.
"We need a discussion, to let the results sink in," he said.
Reinfeldt said he would turn to the Greens to circumvent the far-right's influence, stressing he has time as the next parliament opens on October 4 aqnd the speaker announces the new government the following day.
"My intention is to use the upcoming period to work through the challenges for Sweden. A clear presentation of the government needs to be made available by the beginning of October," he told reporters.
Speaking for the Greens, co-chair Maria Wetterstrand Monday said the party, which campaigned with the leftwing oppostion, did not have a mandate from its voters to launch negotiations with Reinfeldt's centre-right Alliance.
However, the other co-chair Peter Eriksson left open the possibility of negotiations but called on Reinfeldt to hold talks with all the leftwing parties, including the Social Democrats and the formerly communist Left Party.
"The responsibility to manage this situation lays with the seven parties (besides the Sweden Democrats in parliament), not just with one," he told reporters."It would be strange if the largest party in parliament (the Social Democrats) was not included in the discussion."
The Social Democrats, historically the dominant force in Swedish politics, remained parliament's largest party after Sunday's vote, but achieved their worst score since 1914 in what the press described as the "end of an era."
Their leader Mona Sahlin, 53, failed in her bid to become Sweden's first woman prime minister.
Meanwhile, politicians, analysts and media alike lamented the rise of the far-right Sweden Democrats.
The party, headed by 31-year-old Jimmie Aakesson, nearly doubled its score from the 2006 elections, garnering 5.7 percent of the votes to enter the national parliament for the first time.
"This is a historic day both for me and the party", Aakesson said Monday, adding that despite being shunned during the campaign, he was ready to hold talks with all parties in parliament.
The anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats received congratulations and support from the head of an alliance of like-minded parties in the European Parliament.
"I hope for the same in other countries in Europe and beyond because the effects of globalisation... are having everywhere the same destructive effects on people's identities, their independence and their sovereignty," said Bruno Gollnisch of France's National Front in Strasbourg Monday.
Reinfeldt told reporters around 330,000 Swedes had voted for the far-right party, which had in the past spoken out against the "Islamisation" of Sweden.
Among its supporters, Reinfeldt said that "there is a core with xenophobic roots who want to see another Sweden," but he conceded it was also a protest vote.
A crowd of 6,000 protesters, according to police, staged a demonstration against the far-right in Stockholm Monday evening, waving banners and shouting "No to racism!"
"It is very important to show that the big majority of the Swedish population is against the right-wing extremists like the Sweden Democrats," Per Branevig, 33, told AFP.
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