Sweden's Moderates say could cooperate with center-left government

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 19, 2014 6:17 AM

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden's Social Democrat and Green government could get support from the center-right on key issues, a senior member of the Moderate Party said on Friday, easing worries that the country faces parliamentary gridlock.

The Social Democrats, the biggest party after the election, have until Sept. 26 to form a government with the Greens. Party leader Stefan Lofven, handed the job of forming a government on Thursday, is also negotiating with the Left Party to get their backing from outside a coalition.

The three parties would form a larger bloc than the outgoing Alliance government. But the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, who shocked many Swedes by taking 13 percent of Sunday's vote, could block center-left bills or even bring down the government.

"The ball is in Stefan Lofven's court," said Anna Kinberg Batra, the Moderates' leading MP and one of the top candidates to head the party after current Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt steps down as its leader in the spring.

"When he has formed his government, then Stefan Lofven is welcome to come to the Alliance for discussions on key issues, but that is a long time ahead," she said after a meeting with the Social Democrat leader.

The outgoing Alliance government and the Social Democrats have broadly agreed on security and defense policy during the last eight years and had a deal on private schools which also included the Greens. The Greens had a separate deal with the Alliance on maintaining Sweden's generous immigration policies.

Kinberg Batra said she had also discussed immigration with Stefan Lofven. "We talked about the importance of continuing to isolate the Sweden Democrats from being able to exert any influence," she said.

If Lofven can cobble together a government, his first task will be to get a budget passed.

Kinberg Batra and Centre Party Leader Annie Loof repeated that the Moderates, Centre, Liberal and Christian Democrats would present a common budget proposal, giving the Sweden Democrats the option to back that and probably bring down a center-left government.

However, Loof said that was a very unlikely scenario.

"If Stefan Lofven can gather more votes in parliament than us (the Alliance), which he will if the Greens, Social Democrats and Left Party agree a common budget, that budget will be passed by parliament," she told reporters after meeting .

"It's as simple as that."

(Reporting by Simon Johnson and Johan Sennero; Editing by Tom Heneghan)