Swedish PM Stefan Löfven resigns after losing confidence vote | Sweden

Sweden’s prime minister, Stefan Löfven, has stepped down a week after losing a no confidence vote , deciding to ask the speaker of the co...

Sweden’s prime minister, Stefan Löfven, has stepped down a week after losing a no confidence vote, deciding to ask the speaker of the country’s deadlocked parliament to find a new government rather than call a snap election.

“I have requested the speaker to relieve me as prime minister,” Löfven said on Monday. “It is the most difficult political decision I have ever taken.” He added that he would stay on in a caretaker capacity because a snap election in mid-pandemic was “not what is best for Sweden”.

The parliamentary speaker, Andreas Norlén, will now begin a “talmansrunda”, or speaker’s round. He has up to four attempts to find a new head of government who parliament will not reject, with a snap election inevitable if he fails.

Löfven said he hoped it would be possible to form a new government without Swedes having to go to the polls. “I cannot guarantee it, but that is the picture I have in front of me, that it’s possible. We all still need to contribute,” he said.

Scheduled general elections must be held in September next year, meaning any new administration would be short-lived – another reason Löfven was reluctant to call an early vote. “We can’t use our time for political games,” he said.

Löfven’s fragile minority coalition with the Greens had been propped up by informal support from the centre-right Centre and Liberal parties and the once-communist Left party, which withdrew its backing over plans to ease rent controls on new apartments.

The Social Democrat leader, a former union boss and welder who guided his party to power in 2014 and then moved it to the right following inconclusive 2018 elections, became the first Swedish prime minister ever to be defeated by a no confidence vote.

He had seven days after the vote – which was called by the far-right Sweden Democrats and also backed by the conservative Moderate party and Christian Democrats, winning the support of 181 MPs in the 349-seat Riksdag – to try to secure a parliamentary majority and potentially reform his government.

With the two main left and rightwing blocs still deadlocked in parliament, it is unclear how the speaker will fare in his quest. It took Löfven more than four months to form a government in 2018, which the prime minister finally presented in January 2019.

Norlén told the Swedish broadcaster SVT the parties now “know where the others stand” and government formation talks would be faster this time.

Löfven, who is famed for his backroom negotiating skills, has said he is open to returning as prime minister and that outcome remains possible. “My party is ready to shoulder the responsibility to continue to lead our country forward, together with other constructive forces,” he said.

While the Liberal party – which has a new leader since the 2018 election – has said it would now prefer to be part of a right-wing administration, the support of the Centre and Left parties plus at least one of Sweden’s two independent MPs would still give the outgoing premier the narrowest of parliamentary majorities.

Both parties would certainly prefer a centre-left government to a possible centre-right one relying on far-right support, and the Centre party is no longer seeking market rents for new-build apartments, removing a major obstacle to cooperation with the Left party.

Nicholas Aylott, a political scientist at Södertörn University, said such a scenario was likely if Löfven could secure the two parties’ agreement on a budget. “He is surely confident that he’ll cobble together the 175 votes that he needs,” Aylott told Reuters.

“Getting the Left and Centre parties behind the same budget will be tricky, but some fudge could be found.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Swedish PM Stefan Löfven resigns after losing confidence vote | Sweden
Swedish PM Stefan Löfven resigns after losing confidence vote | Sweden
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