Ulf Kristersson: From Moderate Party Politician to Sweden’s PM

Illustrated by Jeannette Khouri

Sweden's parliament elected conservative leader Ulf Kristersson as prime minister on Monday, October 17, in a vote that saw unprecedented support for the traditional right from the Sweden Democrats (SD) ushering in a new political era for the Nordic country.

Kristersson was elected by a margin of 176 votes to 173 after announcing an agreement to form a coalition government with three parties: his Moderate party (M), the Christian Democratic party, and the Liberals party, along with parliamentary support from the Sweden Democrats.

"It feels great, and I am grateful," Kristersson told reporters after the vote in Stockholm. "I am grateful to the Riksdag for its confidence in me. I'm also humbled by the tasks ahead of us."

After eight years of left-wing dominance of the country's political life, Kristersson succeeds Social Democratic Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, who secured the transition by resigning after very close elections.

Ulf Kristersson, born December 29, 1963, is the leader of the Moderate Party (M) and a member of the Riksdag (MP) for Södermanland County since 2014, and previously for Stockholm County from 1991 to 2000.

He was Minister of Social Security from 2010 to 2014, and was previously the Chairman of the Moderate Youth League from 1988 to 1992.

Ulf Kristersson was born in 1963 in Lund, Skne County but, five years later, the family relocated to Torshälla, near Eskilstuna. As a youth, Kristersson was a troupe gymnast.

He completed his secondary education at S:t Eskils gymnasium in Eskilstuna and completed a degree in economics at Uppsala University after serving as a platoon commander in the Uppland Regiment from 1983 to 1984.

He worked as a campaigner for the Moderate Youth League (MUF) in Sörmland during the 1985 Swedish general election. On November 26, 1988, he was elected as the new Chairman of MUF, succeeding Beatrice Ask.

Kristersson joined the Bildt Cabinet which took power in 1991 and served on the Social Security Committee. He quickly became a vocal critic of the government's crisis deal with the Social Democrats.

On December 11, 2014, he was appointed as the Moderate Party's Shadow Finance Minister and economic policy spokesperson. Kristersson announced his candidacy for the Moderate Party's leadership on September 1, 2017, after Anna Kinberg Batra stepped down.

Under his leadership, the Moderate Party (M) has opened up to the Sweden Democrats (SD) since the 2018 Swedish general election and, by late 2021, had entered into an informal right-wing alliance with them and two center-right parties from the dissolved Alliance. In the 2022 Swedish general election, that bloc won a majority in the Riksdag, paving the way for Kristersson to be elected Prime Minister on October 17 after SD backed him.

After Prime Minister Stefan Löfven was deposed on June 29, 2021, Speaker of the Riksdag Andreas Norlén formally charged Kristersson with forming a government. Kristersson had until July 3 to inform Norlén of his potential government.

Kristersson intended to form a coalition with the Christian Democrats, Liberals, and Sweden Democrats. Kristersson informed the Speaker on July 1 that he lacked the necessary support to form a government and resigned his mandate.

Kristersson was described in a 2018 political profile in The Local as exuding "nice guy vibes: smart, humble and reasonable, easygoing and open to discussion," while positioning himself to the right of his predecessors on issues such as crime and immigration. In the same profile, he was also described as representing the Moderate Party's neoliberal wing.

Kristersson has stated that one of his primary political concerns is social mobility. Kristersson stated in his first leadership speech that Sweden should become "a country for hopefuls" and that M should be "a party for hopefuls."

Concerning asylum, Kristersson states that he supports the integration of refugees into Swedish society but advocates for mandatory cultural assimilation[vague] and learning of the Swedish language, as well as the requirement that refugees work and pay taxes.

As for his personal life, Kristersson and his wife, Birgitta Ed, live in Strängnäs and have adopted three children from China.

Related Articles