Sweden’s government was overthrown. Such a decision by parliament has never been made in the Scandinavian country. The Swedes have uncertain weeks ahead of them.
In the middle of the pandemic and just before the otherwise happy midsummer celebrations, the government in Sweden was overthrown. In Stockholm’s parliament, a majority expressed suspicion in the social democratic Prime Minister Stefan Löfven on Monday. This means that the red-green minority government is voted out. A historic decision: never before in Sweden’s history had a head of government lost such a vote.
Löfven now has two options: resignation or new election. The decision has to be made within a week. The 63-year-old initially left open how things should continue. “My main focus has always been, is and will be, to do what is best for Sweden.”
Right-wing populists voted with leftists
Before that, an unusual constellation of leftists, right-wing populists and conservatives had opposed him in the Reichstag. 181 of the 349 MPs expressed their distrust in the Social Democrats, who have been in power since 2014. Löfven now has to decide by next Monday whether he will resign with his government or call a new election.
He wanted to use the time to consult with other parties and carefully consider all options, he said. At the same time, he criticized the parties that had expressed their distrust. In addition to the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats, the Moderates and the Christian Democrats, this also included the Left Party. It is crossed with the red-green minority government because of a proposal to set free rental prices for new buildings.
Exceptional government coalition
“If the left unites with the extreme right, then something happens in the Swedish parliament. It is clear that the political landscape will then change,” he said. Löfven has ruled for seven years. After the parliamentary elections in 2018, the formation of a government was made much more difficult by the strong results of the right-wing populists. It was only after months of negotiations that Löfven found a model in which red-green was tolerated by the Center Party and the Liberals – a novelty because this happened across the classic bloc boundaries.
Now this model is about to end. The liberals have already announced that they want to see a bourgeois government in power. The left-wing chairman Nooshi Dadgostar, however, said she preferred Löfven as head of government – just no market rents, as feared because of the proposal for rent reform. The Left Party considers this to be incompatible with Sweden’s social model. Against this background, the Sweden Democrats had submitted the motion of no confidence.
Corona pandemic in Sweden not yet over
The reform stipulates that the landlord can increase the rent if the popularity of the neighborhood increases. So far, the rental market in Sweden, which is already quite expensive, has been strictly regulated so that rents in Stockholm and other large cities remain affordable. However, this is dissuading property developers from building new rental apartments. The result is that it can take years before a rental agreement is signed. Buying condominiums has also become more difficult.
For the Swedes, the political crisis comes at an inopportune time. On the one hand, the corona pandemic is anything but over, despite progress in vaccination. On the other hand, the actually happiest time of the year is ahead: Midsummer – the summer solstice festival, which is especially celebrated in Scandinavia – is celebrated in Sweden on this Friday and Saturday.
The next parliamentary election is scheduled for September 2022. It will also take place if there is a new election. If Löfven announces his resignation, however, Parliament President Andreas Norlén can initiate negotiations to find a new head of government. Since nothing changes in the composition of the Reichstag, Löfven could be Prime Minister again in the end. Another possible candidate is the moderator Ulf Kristersson. He said after the vote: “We are ready, all the time.”