Who’s in it?
In Sweden, a government does not require majority support in Parliament. But a majority vote can prevent its formation, and an attempt to do that on Friday fell short, with 153 of 349 lawmakers voting to block the new government from taking office. As part of the agreement, the Social Democrats and Greens signed onto a seventy-three-point declaration of intent that is heavy on conservative policies such as mandatory language testing, lower taxation and weaker employment protection rules. It also ruled out any influence from the Left Party, heir to the old Communist Party.
In order to pass a vote of confidence to lead a new government, Social Democratic leader and incumbent prime minister Stefan Löfven required fewer than 175 of Sweden’s 349 MPs to vote against him. He received the backing of his party and the Green Party (115 MPs in total), while most MPs from the Centre Party, Liberal Party and Left Party (77 MPs) abstained, though one Centre Party MP voted ‘no’. The Moderate Party, Christian Democrats and Sweden Democrats all voted against. “More and more governments are becoming reliant on parties with an anti-democratic agenda,” Löfven said after winning the vote, “but in Sweden we stand up for democracy, for equality. Sweden has chosen a different path.”
What does it mean?
The pact is a precarious one, creating a minority government run by a coalition that had to make concessions to some of its more conservative opponents. Both the major, multiparty political alliances fell well short of an outright majority in the September elections, and forming a government over a hundred days later required splitting both blocs. Furthermore, the Social Democrats and Green Party will govern without the third member of their campaign bloc, the Left Party. To consent to the government’s formation, the Centre Party and the Liberals broke with the other two members of the center-right alliance they had joined in the campaign.
However, the nationalist Sweden Democrats won sixty two seats, by far the best result in the party’s history, in the election. That could have easily put them in a position to influence the formation of a government and extract concessions, even if they were not part of the governing coalition. The Liberals and Center Party put an end to that by supporting this government. “We’ve chosen to tolerate this government only as it can act without support from the Sweden Democrats,” explained Annie Lööf, leader of the Centre Party, after the vote.
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