Reinfeldt's Balancing Act
The unity of Sweden's four-party ruling coalition is being put to the test as negotiations continue behind closed doors, leading political insiders to joke that Sweden is the new North Korea with ministers even leaving cabinet meetings via tunnels to avoid the press.
The Moderates are the only party in the Alliance coalition that grew in terms of voter support during this year's election. But if Prime Minister Reinfeldt does not handle the situation delicately, problems could lie ahead.
Based on their victory, the Moderate party would ordinarily get more ministerial posts. But Henrik Brors, a political analyst and reporter with newspaper Dagens Nyheter, tells Radio Sweden that the smaller parties in the coalition – the Christian Democrats, the Liberals and the Center party – are arguing that this would hurt them very heavily. If they give up ministers, then they could wind up without enough support to be re-elected to Parliament during the 2014 elections. And this would hurt Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, who needs those parties to keep his coalition together.
Reinfeldt has to show the voters that he recognizes that the Moderate party were the winners, says Brors, adding that Reinfeldt could do this by giving the Moderates more ministerial posts or by giving them weightier posts in important issues, like integration.
"This is the most important moment in the coming four years," says Brors. "Both in terms of what seats the different parties get, but also every line in the government declaration to the Parliament this coming Tuesday. That's the Bible for the coming years for the government. They will go back to that Bible in every negotiation they have."
The minority government situation makes this period particularly difficult, says Brors. Not only are there internal arguments among the coalition parties, but Reinfeldt also has to leave room for negotation with the opposition parties.
Brors predicts that Nyamko Sabuni, the Liberals integration minister could likely lose her seat, as her views have often not even been supported by her own party. And because the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats have now gotten into Parliament for the first time, integration will be a very important issue.
Christina Husmark Pehrsson of the Moderates will also likely leave her post as social insurance minister, says Brors, since she has been criticized for the long-term sick leave and disability system.
While it is important for all of the parties to show new faces if they are thinking about 2014, Brors says that the Moderates may be the only of the coalition's parties to do so with Hillevi Engström as employment minister. "She's a former police and trade union activist, which is rather strange for the right wing party," says Brors.