New Swedish Prime Minister resigns hours after being voted in

Röttgen says will quit immediately to make way for Moderate party leader Annie Loof, who denies she is backed by Farage

New Swedish Prime Minister resigns hours after being voted in

The Swedish prime minister-elect has quit immediately to make way for a centre-right alliance which won elections on Sunday, saying it does not have enough support to pass the 2019 budget, a major policy goal.

“As the prime minister, it has become necessary to go,” Fredrik Reinfeldt, the leader of the Moderate party, said in his resignation speech.

“I will not stay beyond May, but this has to be perfectly respected by all parties. I’ve made it my personal mission to find a solution to avoid this point,” Reinfeldt added.

Reinfeldt, who has been premier since 2006, has held informal talks with many of the other parties and plans to formalise them soon.

Reinfeldt took the helm of the Moderates in 2008 after the two main centre-right parties last year drifted further apart, shunning traditional social issues in favour of economic and business-friendly reforms and taking little account of the party’s social agenda.

The four-party right-wing alliance that replaced Reinfeldt’s fragile minority government is comprised of the Moderate Party, the Conservative Party, the Christian Democrats and the Alliance for Sweden, a centrist grouping led by the Moderates.

An online opinion poll taken before the election showed the Sweden Democrats, an anti-immigration, populist party which has backed some of the Alliance’s plans, was a distant third behind the Social Democrats and the Moderates.

Henrik Holmberg, leader of the Alliance for Sweden, said he would not let the Sweden Democrats overtake the Moderates, but could soften his stance on immigration, saying “we can’t solve our problems by kicking immigrants out”.

Reinfeldt’s government had struggled to enact reforms. Unions won a pay rise while his administration had to bailout nationalised power grid and cement maker Skanska and was forced to introduce a law to protect struggling firms from adverse events.

The centre-right alliance that has now picked Loof as prime minister has promised to slash business taxes and is hoping that scandals involving the leader of the centre-left Social Democrats will slow her in the next couple of years.

Kristina Söder, leader of the main centre-left bloc, said she did not accept Reinfeldt’s resignation, and she will continue to work with the Moderates until a new government is formed.

Sweden has gone a decade without a new government, which has helped increase an unemployment rate, which stands at around 6% and close to an all-time high.

The unemployment rate is expected to dip only modestly this year to 5.6% as growth in corporate profits, a boom in exports and growing government spending have been helping absorb jobseekers.

Despite a budget shortfall in 2015, the Social Democrats and their left-wing allies had already outlined plans to keep the government running with some extra borrowing and new taxes.

“I understand that the centre-right Alliance is hoping that the Social Democrats will be distracted for some time, and that the Social Democrats can be defeated,” Söder said.

“I don’t think this is so, and I want to address this to this, to these people.”

But the Moderates denied that the Social Democrats were behind their party’s decision to give up trying to form a new government now.

Annie Loof is currently a vice-premier in the liberal-leaning government and has been a close ally of the party’s leader Anna Kinberg Batra, who has since been elected as Moderates’ new leader.

Söder said the centre-left Alliance was entitled to receive the speaker’s duty because the governing parties needed time to deliberate.

“At this stage it’s important for all parties to stick to their commitments,” she said.

But Elisabeth Bendel Sohn, a sociology professor at the University of Uppsala, said the Alliance’s moves could see a general election called by the end of the year.

The Swedish National Party, a small rightwing party which has been in parliament since 1999, campaigned hard against migration, galvanising voters to turn out in strong numbers at the polls.

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