Sweden’s centre-left Prime Minister Stefan Lofven was ousted in a no-confidence vote in parliament on Monday, plunging the country into deep political uncertainty. Lofven, 63, was the first Swedish prime minister to be ousted by a no-confidence motion put forward by the opposition in the European Union member state of about 10 million people.
Lofven, who as Reuters notes was defeated after nearly seven years in power over a plan to ease rent controls for new-build apartments, now has a week to resign and hand the speaker the job of finding a new government, or call a snap election.
“The government now has a week to decide and we will hold talks with our cooperation parties,” Lovfen told a news conference after the vote. “It is what is best for the country that is important. We will work as fast as we can.”
But with parliament deadlocked and opinion polls showing center-right and center-left blocs evenly balanced, the political crisis may not be resolved for a long time, even though economists say this is unlikely to have a big impact on the economy. After all, we live in a world where central banks are now in control of everything and politicians are merely their muppets.
It is not clear to whom the speaker might turn to form a new government if Lofven quits because of the make-up of parliament, but the opinion polls suggest a snap election might not bring clarity either.
As a reminder, back in 2018 Lofven secured a second term only after months of negotiations following an election in which the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats made big gains, redrawing the political map.
Since then he has led a fragile minority government of Social Democrats and Greens, supported by former political rivals the Centre Party and the Liberals but needing the tacit approval of the Left.
Naturally, the Left Party blamed Lofven for the crisis. “It is not the Left Party that has given up on the Social Democrat government, it is the Social Democrat government that has given up on the Left Party and the Swedish people,” Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar said.
Nonetheless, Dadgostar said that even though her party had voted against Lofven, it would never help “a right-wing nationalist government” take power.
Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Akesson, whose party has moved from the far-right fringe into the harmful and historically weak and “should never have come into power.”
Meanwhile, popular appetite for a snap poll may be limited while Sweden is fighting the effects of COVID-19, especially as an election is due next year anyway. A new government – or a caretaker administration – would sit only until after that election. Economists have said they do not expect the political uncertainty to weigh on the economy because of the strict fiscal rules under which Sweden operates.
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