Swedish PM faces crisis as Left Party weighs no-confidence vote

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven speaks as he arrives to attend a face-to-face EU summit amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown in Brussels, Belgium

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven faces a potential government crisis on Thursday with the Left Party due to decide whether it will withdraw its support, triggering a possible vote of no-confidence and potentially a snap election.

Sweden’s political landscape has been badly fragmented since a tight election in 2018, with Lofven heading a centre-left minority government that relies on support from both the Left Party and two small centre-right parties.

Last week, the Left Party threatened Lofven with a vote of no-confidence if he does not back down over proposed changes to rent controls for new-build apartments.

It plans to announce its decision at 1100, according to news agency TT. The Left Party could not immediately be reached for a comment.

The Left Party cannot force a motion of no confidence alone, however, and the only other party appearing willing to launch one may be the Sweden Democrats, with whom the Left Party says it will not work.

Shifting allegiances mean that the Left Party might back a no-confidence motion in Lofven if it were put forward by the Sweden Democrats, who have enough members of parliament to launch one on their own, TT said, citing Left Party sources.

However, it would only do so if the remaining opposition, which includes the right-wing Moderates and Christian Democrats, were also united in ousting Lofven.

The Sweden Democrats declined to comment.

If a vote of no-confidence passed, Lofven could resign, handing the job of finding a new government to parliament’s speaker, or call a snap election.

Still, Sweden is already due to go to the polls in just over a year and the crisis is an unwelcome one.

The Nordic country has only just started easing restrictions aimed at halting the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the economy remains fragile.

Furthermore, opinion polls suggest that the centre-left and centre-right blocs remain deadlocked. Voters may punish parties seen distracting government from dealing with the pandemic.

A caretaker government – another alternative should a vote of no-confidence pass – would likely be headed by Lofven as there is no clear alternative.

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