Alliance meets to lay groundwork for election win

Eight months after the Center Party leader Annie Lööf sent out the invitation, the four leaders of the center-right government coalition will meet today on Lööf's farm in Småland. And the government faces significant challenges.

The four party center-right government Alliance has its hands full. At 8.4 percent, unemployment is high. Some analysts say the alliance is tired and lacking ideas. And two of its parties, the Centre Party and the Christian Democrats, are struggling in the polls.

Heidi Avellan, political editor at the newspaper Sydsvenskan, says the leaders no longer look like they like being together.

“During the time of the former Center Party leader Maud Olofsson’s time the four leaders always looked like they wanted to be together,” she says. “They realized that it was important to show that they had fun together. That's totally gone now. They look tired.”

The new Center Party leader Lööf made the invitation to the other three Alliance leaders this summer. She called it "alliance 2.0". She had earlier complained that the alliance lacked "zeal to make reforms".

The original idea was to repeat the success from another meeting back in 2004. That time the then-leaders of the four parties met at Maud Olofsson's farm in Västerbotten, officially launching the concept of the center-right Alliance, though, of course, most of the work had already been done back in Stockholm.

Two years later the four parties won the election, and have been in charge of Sweden since.

Newspaper political editor Heidi Avellan says the challenges facing the Alliance are different today, adding that today's meeting is about deciding on a strategy for the next election.

“It’s probably a good thing for the three small parties in the Alliance to partly have their own policies,” she says. “Both the Christian Democrats and Center Party have performed really poorly in recent polls, both falling below the four percent threshold they need to enter Parliament. So there is a need for them to profile themselves more. The Liberals are traditionally known as the party concentrating on education policy, for example.”

But there is a danger if the largest party in the alliance, the conservative Moderates, treads on the toes of the other parties. They want to profile themselves as strong, but they do not want to take away votes from the other parties in the Alliance. If those parties disappear from Parliament, the Alliance disappears and the Moderates would likely lose power.