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Swedish PM Lofven ousted in no confidence vote

By BBC

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Stefan Lofven, PM for four years, failed to survive the first weeks of the new government

(BBC) – Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven will have to stand down after losing the support of parliament.

The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats (SD) backed the vote to remove him, weeks after a general election that delivered a hung parliament.

In Tuesday’s dramatic vote, 204 MPs voted against Mr Lofven while 142 voted in favour.

Parliament’s speaker will now propose a new leader – a process that could take weeks.

Mr Lofven is expected to stay on as caretaker prime minister while his replacement is decided.

What happens next?

Mr Lofven, the leader of the centre-left Social Democrats, came to power in 2014. His centre-left alliance won 144 seats in this month’s election, one more than the centre-right opposition.

Neither of the main blocs intends to govern with the nationalist SD, the third-largest party in the new parliament.

But the job of prime minister could fall to Ulf Kristersson, leader of the Moderates. The new speaker, Andreas Norlen, who is also a member of the Moderates, was confirmed in the position on Monday with the support of SD.

While Mr Kristersson is widely seen as the person most likely to form a new government, others may be invited to do so if he fails – including Mr Lofven himself.

The splintered nature of the house makes securing a stable government tricky, because:

– The nationalist SD could break the stalemate, if one of the major blocs would negotiate with it

– Mr Lofven’s party has ruled out backing a minority government of his opponents, the Alliance bloc

– Two of the four members of the Alliance say they will quit if it negotiates a deal with the SD

If there are four unsuccessful attempts to form a government, that will trigger fresh elections – something which has never happened before.

What has the fallout been?

Speaking after the vote, Mr Lofven, who is still the leader of the largest party, said he intended to work to form another government across the political divide.

“I see good opportunities to continue as prime minister,” he said.

Mr Lofven said he did not believe that fresh elections were something voters wanted – but he said he would never support a government that relied on the SD.

Mr Kristersson said that a new government was needed – one with broad political support.

While the SD is expected to back the Moderate candidate, Mr Lofven warned the centre-right bloc on Tuesday against relying on the support of a party “founded by Nazis”.

Who are the Sweden Democrats?

The SD is a nationalist, anti-immigration party which was linked to neo-Nazis and other far-right groups for years. It only entered parliament in 2010.

In the years since, it has become the third-largest party – a political success story.

Officially, it welcomes supporters from all backgrounds, but its history means it has been shunned by the mainstream political parties since it first won seats.

The SD has been keen to change its image. But there have been some unfortunate scandals, and several party members have been expelled in recent years for racist behaviour or links to right-wing groups.

Traditionally, its supporters have been working class men.

But the party won 18% of the vote in the recent general election – up from 13% four years ago – demonstrating a growing base in Sweden.

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One comment

  1. Having a multi-party system other than the two-party system, as especially found in the USA and locally, may make for more stable government. But this is not guaranteed. It may be more democratic in a certain sense. However, the ongoing soap opera in the USA that passes for government is not enviable. The most fundamental lesson that can be learnt is that the calibre and quality of the INDIVIDUALS who populate those parties are much more important than the donning of symbolic gear and the virtual wrapping of one's self in national symbols and siinging patriotic songs. The writings of the philosophers have much to teach us and the coming generations. Alas! All is lost in the Tweeter Generations all trying to make sense of a very complex world with about 140 characters.

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