By Simon Johnson and Johan Ahlander STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden faces a snap election or a caretaker government if a no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, brought by the far-right Sweden Democrats and backed by other opposition parties, passes next week as looks likely. The Sweden Democrats demanded the vote, now scheduled for Monday, […]
Swedish PM Lofven on the brink as no-confidence vote looms
By Simon Johnson and Johan Ahlander
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden faces a snap election or a caretaker government if a no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, brought by the far-right Sweden Democrats and backed by other opposition parties, passes next week as looks likely.
The Sweden Democrats demanded the vote, now scheduled for Monday, after the Left, a party at the other end of the political spectrum, said it could no longer back Lofven, objecting to a government plan to scrap rent controls on newly built apartments..
Lofven leads a minority coalition and has relied on support from both the Left Party and two small centre-right parties since winning a second term in office after the 2018 election.
“If we have a chance to replace this damaging government we will take it,” Henrik Vinge, the Sweden Democrat’s parliamentary group leader, told a news conference.
The Moderate Party, the biggest opposition party in parliament, said it would vote to oust Lofven, as did the smaller Christian Democrats.
“We will we vote against Stefan Lofven’s government,” Moderate parliamentary group leader Tobias Billstrom told reporters.
With the Left Party set to join the vote against Lofven, he will be forced to resign or call a snap election. A vote of no-confidence would need a simple majority in the 349-seat parliament to pass.
Lofven will hold a news conference at 1400 GMT.
An election, however, may not solve the current political deadlock and comes at a difficult time, with the country still fighting the effects of the pandemic.
The country is also been due to go to the polls next year, leaving any government produced by snap elections a short-lived proposition.
“Nobody wants a government crisis one year ahead of elections,” said Ulf Bjereld, political science professor at Gothenburg University and an active Social Democrat.
Lofven, only just managed to secure a second term after 2018’s vote, but has clung on to power over the last three years despite being forced to balance demands from the Centre and Liberal parties – with whom he has a formal policy agreement – and the Left Party, whose support he also needs.
The agreement with the Centre and Left Party excludes the Left Party from having any influence in policy.
The Left Party has tried to flex its muscles, but has also struggled to balance its goals with the threat that a defeat for Lofven could usher in a right-of-centre government that would be even less to its taste.
Opinion polls suggest that neither the centre-left nor centre-right bloc would get a majority if an election were held today.
A caretaker government – another alternative should a vote of no-confidence pass – would likely be headed by Lofven as there is no clear alternative. (This story refiles to delete extraneous word “faces” from headline)
(Reporting by Simon Johnson and Johan Ahlander; Additional reporting by Anna Ringstrom and Niklas Pollard; Editing by Niklas Pollard, William Maclean, Frances Kerry, Raissa Kasolowsky and Jonathan Oatis)