International

Swedish Opposition Afghan Agreement

The Swedish coalition opposition parties - the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left Party - have reached agreement on a limited extension of the mandate for Swedish troops now in Afghanistan and the delivery of ambulance helicopters there.

The agreements calls for the beginning of a withdrawl from Afghanistan next year to be completed by 2013.

The Left Party which was originally pushing for an immediate pull-out, but says it agrees that the helicopters are needed to serve the troops already there, and it's pleased that the coalition partners agree to a withdrawal date.

The four-party ruling center-right coalition has been against setting any date for a Swedish withdrawal date.

The opposition support for sending helicopters saves the new minority government from failing to get agreement on this sensitive issue - and from having to bargain with the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats now in parliament for the first time.

The Sweden Democrats are eager to become the king-makers, holding the balance of power between the ruling alliance and the opposition, and while some members want an immediate withdrawal of the Swedish troops, others want a deadline set for this - and could support the opposition against the minority government.

The red-green opposition parties have also agreed on a new education proposal calling for grading student starting in the 7th class – in contrast to the government's desire for grades starting in the 6th class.

The opposition has not yet agreed to support jointly a candidate for the speaker of  parliament or a common budget proposal.