COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Stefan Lofven, Sweden’s Social Democratic prime minister since 2014, lost a confidence vote in parliament on Monday, making him the first Swedish leader ever to lose such a motion.The development creates new political uncertainty in the Scandinavian nation after the last election in 2018 created a deadlocked parliament and months of negotiations to produce a government.Under a timeline dictated by the Swedish Constitution, the prime minister now has one week to decide whether to call a new election or ask the parliament speaker to find a new government. Lofven said he wants “to take some time” though “not necessarily the whole week” to decide on his next step.That government, a Social Democratic-Green coalition, is a minority government that has relied on votes from the small Left Party to pass laws.The no-confidence motion in Lofven’s government was called by the nationalist Sweden Democrats party, but it ultimately succeeded because the Left Party had withdrawn its support from the government over proposed legislation to tackle a housing shortage. Lawmakers voted 181-109 against Lofven, with 51 abstentions.The Left Party said it lost confidence in Lofven over a proposal to abolish rent controls on newly built properties.Sweden has strict regulations on rents aimed at maintaining affordable prices in larger cities. However, this makes property developers less willing to invest in building new homes for the rental market. People wanting to rent a home can wait years for a contract and buying property is increasingly hard amid soaring home prices.However, the Left Party fears that deregulating the rental market will lead to rapid price increases and deeper segregation between rich and poor.After the vote, Lofven, 63, said that “regardless of what happens, I and my party will be available to shoulder the responsibility for leading the country.”“My focus has and will always be to do the best for Sweden,” he added.Over the weekend, Lofven held last-minute meetings seeking to secure a majority in parliament for his proposed rent reforms. On Sunday, he sought to soften the reforms by inviting landlords and tenant organizations for talks.However, Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar said the party was standing by its decision to oppose Lofven and said his effort was “a political show.”“We have done something that is perceived as unusual in politics … kept our word,” she said.The Left Party’s initiative was supported by three other parties, including the Sweden Democrats, a right-wing populist party which the mainstream parties generally refuse to cooperate with because they consider it extreme.The Sweden Democrats made huge gains in a 2018 vote to 17.6% — a showing attributed to a backlash against large-scale migration. In 2015, Sweden, with a population of 10 million, took in a record 163,000 refugees – the highest per capita of any European country. The populist party became Sweden’s third-largest party in the 2014 vote.The 2018 election produced a hung parliament, with parties on the left and the center-right bloc securing about 40% of the vote each. In January 2019, Swedish lawmakers approved Lofven’s minority government, ending a four-month political deadlock.——— This story has been corrected to show that the Sweden Democrats became the country’s third-largest party in 2014, not 2018.
Sweden’s prime minister says he will wait to learn the outcome of no-confidence vote and then “think through what is best” for the country after a government ally won support from three opposition parties to unseat himBy JAN M. OLSEN Associated PressJune 17, 2021, 4:03 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleCOPENHAGEN, Denmark — The Swedish prime minister said Thursday he will wait to learn the outcome of no-confidence vote and then “think through what is best for Sweden” after a government ally won support from three opposition parties to unseat him.If Prime Minister Stefan Lofven loses the vote on Monday, it could bring an abrupt end to his leadership of the Scandinavian country after seven years.The Left Party said this week that it had lost confidence in Lofven and his center-left minority government, The small party said it would call for a no-confidence vote in the 349-seat Riksdag if the prime minister did not stop a proposal to abolish rent controls on newly built properties.The Left Party, which is not in Lofven’s two-party government but has used its 27 parliament seats to back the coalition of Social Democrats and Greens. Its saber-rattling gives the party an opportunity to raise its profile.Lofven called the Left Party’s threat “so hasty.” He said the wording of the plan at the center of the party’s demand was up for discussion and not finalized.“Such a proposal doesn’t exist,” Lofven said. “To throw Sweden into a political crisis in this difficult situation for the country, it is not responsible,” the prime minister said, referring to the coronavirus pandemic and its consequences.The prime minister has two options if a no-confidence motion passes: calling a snap election or putting in “a request for dismissal” and becoming the head of a caretaker government. There is no clear alternative to Lofven for prime minister.On Thursday, three opposition parties — the center-right Moderates and the Christian Democrats, and the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats which is rooted in a neo-Nazi movement — said they would join the Left Party in voting against the government.“This government should never have taken office. We have already voted ‘no’ to Stefan Lofven several times. We will, of course, do it again,” Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristerssons said.The governing coalition holds 116 parliament seats. All together, the four parties opposing Lofven have 181 lawmakers. To succeed, a vote of no confidence must be supported by an absolute majority, which is 175 votes.However, both the center-left and the center-right blocs have refused to cooperate with the Sweden Democrats, the country’s third-largest party, which made great strides in the September 2018 national election.The party has for months criticized Lofven for not doing enough to fight immigration and crime. In recent years, the Sweden Democrats have worked to soften its image and has played a role in breaking down longstanding taboos on what Swedes could say openly about immigration and integration without being shunned as racists.Sweden’s next parliamentary election is scheduled for next year. Political science professor Tommy Moller said he doubts there will be an early one called.“The government will probably fall, and then Stefan Lofven returns with a new government,” he told Swedish news agency TT.He said the Left Party had entered “a chicken race” and might bail on trying to send the prime minister packing because of the prospect of being forced to vote alongside the Sweden Democrats.