The Swedish ruling coalition holds its parliamentary majority by just one seat after the resignation of Sweden Democrats MP Elsa Widding following criticism of her attendance at a conspiracy theorists conference.
Widding recently attended a conference with well-known vaccine opponents, climate change deniers and Holocaust relativists and was heavily criticised for it, namely by the Liberal Education Minister Mats Persson.
“Widding shows a contempt for knowledge that does not befit a member of parliament. It is serious about supporting conspiracy theories about climate, vaccines and the Holocaust. She must now show that she stands up for science,” Persson wrote on Twitter.
Widding has previously been criticised for her stance on climate issues and has said there is no scientific evidence that the world is in a climate crisis.
“The line has been crossed, I am leaving SD”, she wrote on Twitter.
She also said she had been subjected to a smear campaign by leading representatives of the Liberal Party and that her party did not defend her.
“I would have expected my party to distance itself from these despicable attacks that the leading representatives of the Liberals are guilty of. They accuse me of supporting those who deny or minimise the terrible genocide of six million Jews,” Widding said in the YouTube video she shared on Twitter before resigning.
Widding’s party, the Sweden Democrats (SD, affiliated to the European Conservatives and Reformists), are not part of the ruling coalition in Sweden – composed of the Moderates, the Liberals and the Christian Democrats – but they offer necessary support to the centre-right government of Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson in exchange for the implementation of their politics, namely on migration.
With Widding’s departure, the Swedish government’s support base in parliament is shrinking as the four parties that signed the coalition agreement now only have 174 seats (vs. 173 for the opposition), as Moderate MP Kjell Jansson, who went on sick leave after an extortion scandal, has not yet been replaced.
However, Widding has stated that she intends to vote in line with the Sweden Democrats in future important votes, according to the Sweden Democrats’ member of Parliament Linda Lindberg.
“We respect Elsa’s decision but at the same time, regret that she has chosen to go that way. As the strong collective voice of the party, we hope that Elsa will choose to leave her seat in the parliament in favour of someone who represents the Sweden Democrats,” Lindberg wrote in a statement.
(Charles Szumski | EURACTIV.com)
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