Swedish government risks losing confidence vote

Sweden’s minority government could be toppled next week after four parties in parliament announced Thursday they would back a no confidence vote, potentially triggering a snap election.

The far-right Sweden Democrats (SD) party announced it was calling for a motion of no confidence for Monday after the Left Party earlier warned it would seek a similar move over a dispute on rent controls for newly built apartments.

“There is now a majority in parliament that wants to dismiss the prime minister,” Henrik Vinge, SD’s parliament group leader, told a press conference.

Vinge said they hoped the government would fall a year ahead of the next general election.

But Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said later Thursday: “To throw Sweden into a political crisis in this dire situation for the country, that is not responsible.”

Addressing a news conference, the Social Democrat stressed that Sweden was still in the midst of a pandemic and resulting economic crisis.

Both the conservative Moderate Party and the Christian Democrats followed suit after SD’s announcement, thereby securing a parliamentary majority for the no confidence motion.

“We were against the Lofven government when they took power. We were against the Lofven government then, we are against (it)  now,” Ebba Busch, party leader of the Christian Democrats, told a press conference.

Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson echoed Busch.

“Our opinion is very clear, this government should never have taken office,” Kristersson wrote on Facebook.

– No alternative –

Parliament speaker Andreas Norlen confirmed the vote will be held on Monday.

The minority government took power in 2019 after months of political turmoil following inconclusive elections in 2018.

To secure power it inked a deal with two centre-left parties, the Centre Party and the Liberals, and was propped up by the Left Party.

The deal included proposals for several liberal market reforms, including a government inquiry into allowing landlords to freely set rents for new apartments.

These reforms have irked the Left Party, and after multiple calls on the government to abandon the “market rents”, party leader Nooshi Dadgostar said earlier Thursday that they were looking for support among other parties for a vote of no confidence.

“Someone has to stand up for Sweden’s tenants,” Dadgostar told a press conference, adding that it wasn’t an “easy announcement”.

The Left Party has in the past issued several ultimatums to the government, threatening action, but has not gone this far until now.

Lofven noted that the parties had decided to move forward without a common plan for his successor.

“These four parties now owe the Swedish people a proposal for what their government alternative is,” Lofven told reporters.

Lofven also played down the issue at hand, noting that new apartments account for less than one percent of rented housing in Sweden.

“This is not what the Swedish people expect from politics, but it’s exactly what (the four parties) are now doing,” Lofven said.

Centre Party leader Annie Loof expressed support for the government.

“SD and the Left Party are now locking arms, even though they disagree on where they are going,” Loof said in a post to Twitter.

To topple Lofven, the parties, which together have 181 seats in the 349-member parliament, will need to secure 175 votes.

If they succeed it would be unprecedented in Sweden, whose parliament has held 11 unsuccessful votes of no confidence over the past four decades.

If the vote passes, Lofven would have a week to decide whether to call a new election or just resign.

The speaker would then launch negotiations with parties to find a new candidate for prime minister — an exercise that took four months in the wake of the 2018 election.

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