Ulf Kristersson

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Ulf Kristersson
Kristersson in 2023
Prime Minister of Sweden
Assumed office
18 October 2022
MonarchCarl XVI Gustaf
DeputyEbba Busch
Preceded byMagdalena Andersson
Leader of the Moderate Party
Assumed office
1 October 2017
Deputy
Party Secretary
Preceded byAnna Kinberg Batra
Leader of the Opposition
In office
1 October 2017 – 18 October 2022
MonarchCarl XVI Gustaf
Prime Minister
Preceded by
Member of the Riksdag
Assumed office
4 October 2014
ConstituencySödermanland County
In office
5 October 1991 – 30 April 2000
ConstituencyStockholm Municipality
Personal details
Born
Ulf Hjalmar Kristersson

(1963-12-29) 29 December 1963 (age 60)
Lund, Malmöhus County, Sweden
Political partyModerate Party
Spouse
Birgitta Ed
(m. 1991)
Children3
ResidenceSager House
Alma materUppsala University (Civilekonom)
WebsiteOfficial website
Military service
Branch/service Swedish Army
Years of service1983–1984
UnitUppland Regiment

Ulf Hjalmar Kristersson (born 29 December 1963) is a Swedish politician who has been serving as Prime Minister of Sweden since 2022. He has been the leader of the Moderate Party (M) since October 2017 and a member of the Riksdag (MP) for Södermanland County since 2014 and for Stockholm County from 1991 to 2000.[1] He previously served as Minister for Social Security from 2010 to 2014 and as Chairman of the Moderate Youth League from 1988 to 1992.[2]

On 11 December 2014, he was appointed Shadow Finance Minister of the Moderate Party and economic policy spokesperson. On 1 October 2017 Kristersson was elected party leader of the Moderate Party after Anna Kinberg Batra stepped down.[3][4] Under his leadership, M has opened up to the Sweden Democrats (SD) and, by late 2021, had formed an informal right-wing alliance with them and two centre-right parties of the dissolved Alliance. In the 2022 Swedish general election, that bloc obtained a majority in the Riksdag, leading to Kristersson's election as Prime Minister on 17 October.[5]

Biography

Early life

Ulf Kristersson was born in Lund, Skåne County, as the eldest of three children to Lars Kristersson (1938–2015) who worked with economics and teacher Karin Kristersson (

née Axelsson; 1938–2020).[6] The family moved to Torshälla outside Eskilstuna five years later.[7] In his youth, Kristersson was a troupe gymnast.[8]
Kristersson finished secondary school at S:t Eskils gymnasium in Eskilstuna. After graduating, Kristersson did military service as a platoon commander at Uppland Regiment from 1983 to 1984[9] and completed a degree in economics at Uppsala University.[10]

Early political career

In connection with the

Bildt Cabinet.[14]

In 1992, Kristersson was challenged as chairman of MUF by Fredrik Reinfeldt.[15] The congress was preceded by considerable ideological divisions between liberals and conservatives. All this erupted at the congress in Lycksele, which came to be known as the Battle of Lycksele.[16] Kristersson, the liberal alternative, lost narrowly. It is said that his loss caused his withdrawal from front-line politics and he was subsequently known as part of the "Lost Generation" of the Moderate Party.[17] At the time, he was criticized for his amateurism and preference for communication over political thought.[18]

From 1995 to 1998, Kristersson was chief of marketing at Timbro, a free market think-tank, while also working in parliament. In 1994 he also released the book Non-working Generation at Timbros publishing company. In the book Kristersson argues against the welfare institutions in Sweden and compares these to apartheid because he considered these institutions to force people into passivity.[19]

Career outside politics

Kristersson left his parliamentary seat in April 2000, feeling that the new party leader Bo Lundgren had declined his services.[20] Kristersson worked for two years in the private sector, mainly as communications director and VP for the internet consultancy Adcore,[21] a dotcom crash casualty.

Kristersson was chairman of the Swedish Adoption Centre (Adoptionscenter). During his time as chairman, information emerged that the centre handled adoptions of children trafficked from China.[22]

Municipal politics

He returned to active politics in 2002 as Commissioner (Mayor) for Finance in Strängnäs and served there until 2006.[7] In 2006, he was appointed Vice Mayor (Socialborgarråd) in Stockholm, responsible for the social welfare and labor division.[6]

During this time Kristersson got a rental contract for a five-room apartment in central Stockholm from Ersta Diakonisällskap. Ersta Diakonisällskap describes its basic purpose as "to be a support for people in vulnerable situations, to take social responsibility and to offer care."[23] Due to that, Stockholm city was contracting and gave economical aid to Ersta Diakonisällskap, that, among other things provided for housing for those in social need. An investigation was started and Kristersson and another person in the associations leadership were suspected of bribery. According to an internal policy document, the apartments in the building were reserved for those newly employed by the association and students at Marie Cederschiöld högskola. The investigation was closed with the motivation that Kristersson did not have direct influence over the aid that the association could give.[24][18]

Fredrik Reinfeldt also asked Kristersson to lead the committee responsible for developing a new family policy for the party.[17] He immediately caused controversy by suggesting that fathers must take a month of paternity leave for the family to receive all benefits.[7] This was clearly conflicted with traditional Moderate Party policy, which has centred on individual choice.[7]

Return to national politics

On 5 October 2010, Fredrik Reinfeldt appointed Kristersson to become Minister of Social Security, a position he held for four years.[25] After the 2014 Swedish general election, the Reinfeldt cabinet resigned, but Kristersson was elected as MP again, this time for Södermanland County.[26] Following Reinfeldt's resignation as party leader, Anna Kinberg Batra appointed him as Shadow Finance Minister.[27]

Leader of the Moderate Party

Ulf Kristersson in the 2018 Swedish general election.

Anna Kinberg Batra resigned as leader of the Moderates on 25 August 2017, after internal criticism.[28] Kristersson publicly decided to run for leadership on 1 September and was elected on 1 October.[29][30] The party saw a sharp increase in support in the polls, compared to the record low numbers under his predecessor Batra.[31][28] He has a harsher stance against immigration than his predecessors.[32][30]

2018–2019 government formation

In September 2018, incumbent Prime Minister Stefan Löfven was ousted.[29] Kristersson expressed hope of becoming the next Prime Minister.[33][29] On 2 October, he was designated by Speaker of the Riksdag Andreas Norlén to form a new government.[34] He initially sought to form a government coalition involving the Alliance parties (Moderate Party, Centre Party, Christian Democrats and Liberals) with support from the Swedish Social Democratic Party (S). On 9 October, he said that S had rejected all further talks on agreements and that he would now seek other ways to form a new government.[35] On 14 October, he stated that he was not able to form a new government.[36]

On 5 November 2018, Speaker Norlén proposed Kristersson as Prime Minister following breakdowns in all other government negotiations.[37] On 14 November 2018, the Riksdag rejected Kristersson's bid to become Prime Minister by a vote of 195 to 154. It was the first time ever that a speaker's proposal for Prime Minister lost such a vote and the first time in 40 years that centre-right parties (Centre Party and Liberals) vetoed a centre-right candidate for Prime Minister.[38][39]

2019–present

Kristersson held a meeting in December 2019 with Jimmie Åkesson, leader of the Sweden Democrats, and said that he would cooperate with them in parliament. The anti-immigration party had previously been subject to a cordon sanitaire by all other parties, with Kristersson himself ruling out dialogue with them ahead of the 2018 elections. According to Ann-Cathrine Jungar of Södertörn University, this put Sweden in line with several other European countries in which centre-right and radical-right parties cooperate.[40] In August 2020, he criticised the government for a perceived failure to deal with rising crime, including gun violence, which he called a "second pandemic".[41]

2021 government crisis

On 29 June 2021, after Prime Minister Stefan Löfven was ousted, Speaker of the Riksdag Andreas Norlén formally tasked Kristersson with forming a government. Kristersson had until 3 July to report his potential government to Norlén.[42] Kristersson planned to lead a coalition of his own party along with the Christian Democrats, Liberals, and Sweden Democrats. On 1 July, Kristersson informed the Speaker that he did not have enough support to form a government and returned his mandate.[43]

2022 government formation

Kristersson going to meet the Speaker, October 2022.

Kristersson led the Moderate Party (M) during the 2022 campaign, in which his party lost parliamentary seats, as well as the second place position (for the first time since the 1976 Swedish general election); nonetheless, the right-wing bloc gained an absolute majority, resulting in Magdalena Andersson's resignation and Kristersson's nomination as Prime Minister by Speaker Andreas Norlén.[44] Kristersson signalled his preference for a coalition government between M, the Christian Democrats (KD) and Liberals (L) with external support from the Sweden Democrats (SD).[45]

On 14 October, Kristersson presented the fully documented

far right,[50] as did opposition leaders.[51]

The joint programme places particular emphasis on fighting crime, reducing immigration and reviving nuclear energy. The quota of refugees accepted each year would be drastically reduced from 6,400 to 900. The new authorities are also planning deportations for "bad behaviour". In terms of security policy, there is talk of authorizing searches in the absence of suspicious behaviour in certain neighbourhoods deemed sensitive, increasing the penalties and opening up the possibility of anonymous testimony in court. A national ban on begging will be tested. The agreement also provides for a downward revision of Sweden's greenhouse gas emission targets, a reduction in development aid and possible privatization.[18]

With 19.1% of the vote for his party, Ulf Kristersson is the weakest prime minister since 1978. He began his term of office with a significantly lower popularity rating than that of the outgoing Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.[18]

Prime Minister of Sweden (2022–present)

On 18 October 2022, Kristersson as per constitutional requirements, was officially identified by the

King Carl XVI Gustaf as the new Prime Minister, having announced his government program earlier that day in a speech to the Riksdag as well as having appointed the ministers of his cabinet.[52][53]

Kristersson with Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden Ebba Busch in 2022.

Domestic policy

Defense

Since May 2022, Sweden is in the process of

government of Magdalena Andersson and the four parties, then in opposition, now supporting Ulf Kristersson as Prime Minister. On 8 March 2023, the Kristersson government submitted the bill allowing Sweden's membership in NATO to the Riksdag, which then approved a revised version of the bill on 22 March 2023.[54]

In the governments first budget,

GDP by 2026. In line with this commitment, the government announced an increase in defense spending by 13.1 billion SEK, from 74.8 billion SEK to 87.9 billion SEK for the year 2023.[55] The budget included the establishment of the Swedish Agency for Defence Analysis from 1 January 2023.[56]

On 2 December 2022, Bergslagen Artillery Regiment (A9) was reopened after having been closed in 2000.[57]

In April and May 2023, the Swedish Armed Forces executed the largest military exercise in Sweden in 34 years, Aurora 23.[58] A total of 26,000 men and women participated in the exercise, which consisted of 14 participating countries and which involved all combat forces and defense branches. The exercise scenario was that a foreign power attacked Sweden on 24 April 2023.[59]

Energy

During his first 100 days in office, Kristerssons government adopted policies that removed the bans on building new

wind power plants and allocated 379 million SEK for investments in energy efficiency in single-family houses. The government also announced that Sweden's energy policy goal is to be changed from 100% "renewable energy" to 100% "fossil free energy".[60]

In December 2022 and early January 2023,

state owned energy company Vattenfall as well as Finnish state owned energy company Fortum both announced plans to build new nuclear reactors in Sweden.[61][62]

On 18 April 2023,

hydroelectric power in over 30 years. The estimated production increase of the planned expansion is 720 MW, an increase by 9% of the companys current hydroelectric power production.[63]

On 27 April 2023, the government instructed the Swedish Energy Agency to support the implementation of stress tests in the energy sector. The purpose of the instruction is to increase the resilience in Sweden's energy sector and was partly in response to the 2022 Nord Stream pipeline sabotage.[64]

Response to the energy crisis

In response to the

global energy crisis, on 27 October 2022, Kristersson and Ebba Busch announced a 55 billion (SEK) high-cost protection compensation in connection to the high increase of power bills for households; this first part of the protection was only paid out in the energy price zones three and four (2 out of 4 zones) in the southern parts of Sweden.[65] On 9 January 2023, the government announced the next step in the compensation scheme which included all four energy price zones.[66]

To prevent the risk electricity-intensive production moving abroad in the event of bankruptcy due to high energy prices, the government announced on 22 December 2022 the introduction of high-cost protection compensation for electricity-intensive companies.[67] The European Commission approved the high-cost protection for companies on 16 February 2023.[68]

Migration

During his first 100 days in office, Kristerssons government adopted policies in line with his stated paradigm shift in Swedish migration policies. This has included an increase by 25% of the number of internal controls on foreigners, a mission to authorities to intensify the work regarding the return of persons who do not meet the requirements to stay in Sweden, increased number of storage places, carrying out information efforts and analyze opportunities to increase voluntary repatriation and lowered the level of quota refugees to 900 per year (a decrease from 5,000 per year) and the Swedish Migration Agency has been tasked with preparing for the changes.[69]

On 5 April 2023, the government proposed a requirement that all asylum seekers, with the exception of unaccompanied minor, must live in state accommodation and participate in social introduction during the asylum process, that people who for some reason do not live in asylum accommodation should inform the Swedish Migration Agency of their residential address. For asylum seekers who do not notify the Swedish Migration Agency, the authority must regard the asylum application as withdrawn, with the consequence that the asylum seeker needs to leave the country. The proposal also included that asylum seekers must be required to participate in social introduction according to law. It is expected that the proposed changes will be law by 1 April 2024.[70]

Crime prevention

In the 2020s, violence of organized crime gangs escalated in Sweden; many people were shot. Ulf Kristersson announced during a speech to the nation in September 2023 that he would call in the country's armed forces for help. He would discuss with the heads of the Försvarsmakten and the police how soldiers could support police officers in their work against criminal gangs.[71]

Kristerssons Government has announced it's intentions to implement stop and search zones, referred to as Security Zones. In these temporary zones police would be able to search people and vehicles without any suspicion of a crime on grounds such as wearing clothing brands associated with gangs and deviant behavior.[72][73][74]

Foreign policy

The first foreign leaders met by Kristersson was Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, whom he travelled to Helsinki to meet on 28 October 2022. He held bilateral meetings with both, primarily focused on the ongoing energy crisis, defense and security policy and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[75]

On 7 November 2022, Kristersson attended the

food supply chains.[76]

Kristersson with Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin on 2 February 2023
Kristersson with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in 2023.
Kristersson with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on 30 May 2023
Kristersson with U.S. President Joe Biden on 5 July 2023
Kristersson with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on 12 July 2023
Kristersson with Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo on 27 November 2023

On 8 November 2022, he travelled to Ankara to meet with

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. They spoke, among other things, about Sweden's application to join NATO.[77] Kristersson promised to end support for the Kurdish Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and People's Defense Units (YPG) militia.[78]

On 1 January 2023, Sweden took over the presidency of the Council of the European Union for a six month term.[79] Prior to that, Sweden outlined four priorities for their presidency:[80]

  • Security – Unity
  • Resilience – Competitiveness
  • Prosperity – Green transition and energy transition
  • Democratic values and the rule of law – Our foundation

On 15 February 2023, Kristersson visited Ukraine and met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss about the ongoing Russian invasion. Kristersson stressed that Ukraine "Ukraine belongs to Europe and belongs in the European Union". During a joint press meeting, Kristersson underlined that Sweden intends to continue with political, economic and military support to Ukraine.[81][82]

In April 2023, after approval from the

2023 Sudan conflict.[83][84][85]

Political positions and image

A 2018 political profile in

Kristersson with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2017.
Kristersson with then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2017

Kristersson himself has described social mobility as one of his core concerns in politics.[87] In his first leadership speech, Kristersson stated that Sweden should become "a country for hopefuls" and that M should be "a party for hopefuls".[88] On the matter of asylum, Kristersson states that he supports the integration of refugees into Swedish society but argues for compulsory cultural assimilation[vague] and learning of the Swedish language, and that refugees be put to work and pay tax.[89]

Kristersson initially ruled out forming an alliance with the Sweden Democrats (SD) upon assuming party leadership; following the 2018 Swedish general election, he ended the policy of non-cooperation and met with SD's leadership for official talks.[90][91] Before the 2022 Swedish general election, Kristersson suggested that he would form a loose right-wing bloc consisting of M, the Christian Democrats (KD), Liberals (L) and SD but expressed uncertainty at SD's demand that they be allocated cabinet positions should the right-wing bloc win a majority.[92] Following the election, Kristersson signalled his ambition to form a new conservative government with support from SD.[93]

In 2023, following a series of Quran burnings in Sweden, a trend started by Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Paludan which garnered international attention, Kristersson publicly denounced these actions.[94] However, he affirmed his belief in freedom of expression, asserting that despite his condemnation, he acknowledges the legality of the burning of any book including holy ones.[95]

Personal life

Kristersson lives in Strängnäs.[96] He has been married since 1991 to Birgitta Ed (b. 1968), formerly a public relations consultant and as of 2023 a priest in the clergy of the Church of Sweden. They have adopted three daughters from China.[97][98] Kristersson does not consider himself a religious believer.[99]

Honours

References

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External links

Party political offices
Preceded by Chairman of the Moderate Youth League
1988–1992
Succeeded by
Preceded by Leader of the Moderate Party
2017–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by Minister for Social Security
2010–2014
Succeeded by
Preceded by Leader of the Opposition
2017–2022
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Sweden
2022–present
Incumbent
Order of precedence
Preceded byas Speaker of the Riksdag Swedish order of precedence
Prime Minister
Succeeded byas Marshal of the Realm