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Europe

Swedish prime minister presents center-right minority government

More than two weeks after losing votes to a far-right, anti-immigration party, Sweden's prime minister successfully formed a minority government and pledged that Sweden would remain a 'tolerant' country.

Fredrik Reinfeldt

Reinfeldt said Sweden would remain 'open' and 'tolerant'

Swedish Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt presented a minority government on Tuesday, seeking to distance his center-right coalition from a far-right party recently elected to parliament.

Reinfeldt, 45, said in his first speech to the newly seated government that Sweden would remain an "open" and "tolerant" country.

"Without this openness, Sweden would have been a poorer country," he said, adding that he would work with the opposition Greens and Social Democrats to find "broad solutions, consensus and stability."

Elections on September 19 gave the center-right coalition of the Moderate Party, Center Party, Liberal Party and Christian Democrats 173 out of 349 seats in parliament, or two seats short of a full majority. Meanwhile the far-right Sweden Democrats entered parliament for the first time, winning 20 seats.

Reinfeldt and leaders of the three main opposition parties, the Social Democrats, Greens and the Left Party, all said they would not cooperate with the Sweden Democrats because of their strict anti-immigrant and anti-Islam platform.

Protest in central Stockholm

Monday's anti-racism protest drew some 4,500

Protests against far-right

The 24-member cabinet includes new ministers for integration, labor and infrastructure. Reinfeldt said in his speech that his government would tackle problems with immigration, unemployment and education, and that it would remain committed to fiscal responsibility.

He also proposed allowing people to remain in the work force until they turn 69, two years longer than the current practice.

The new parliament took its seat on Monday and promptly re-elected Peter Westerberg as speaker with 194 votes, including the support of the Sweden Democrats.

Just as parliament began its new session, more than 4,500 people gathered in central Stockholm and marched to parliament to protest the far-right party. The crowd chanted "We are the most numerous, we are the strongest, stop racism," and carried banners reading "The Sweden Democrats are wrong" and "No racists in parliament."

A similar demonstration of about 6,000 people took place shortly after the elections.

Author: Andrew Bowen (AP/AFP/dpa)
Editor: Nancy Isenson

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