Sweden’s prime minister resigns but warns against speedy elections

Sweden’s center-left government resigned on Monday but Prime Minister Stefan Lofven refused to call quick elections, saying he would seek to form a new coalition to break a parliamentary meeting caused by the rise of a nationalist party.

“With a year remaining until the regular elections, and as for the extraordinary situation the country is facing with the ongoing pandemic with the special challenges involved, quick elections are not what is best for Sweden “, Lofven said at a press conference on Monday.

He said the resignation decision had been “the hardest” he had ever had to make.

The resignation of the prime minister means that the speaker of the Swedish parliament now has four attempts to try to find a new government. Sweden’s traditional left-right policy has been shaken by the emergence of Sweden’s nationalist democrats, who entered parliament for the first time in 2010 and are now the third largest party.

Political experts say it is far from certain that a new government can be formed. Lofven took four months in 2018 to form a minority coalition between his Social Democrats and the Greens, which was supported in parliament by two center-right parties, the Center and the Liberals, as well as by the communist left-wing party.

The current political crisis has been sparked by the Left Party joining forces with Swedish Democrats and other opposition groups, leading to the first successful vote of no confidence against a seated Swedish prime minister.

The Center party has said it is willing to negotiate with Lofven but not with Democrats from the Left or Sweden. Center abandoned its demand for reform of rent controls, the problem that led to the Left’s vote against the government.

But the main center-right opposition party, the Moderates, could fight to form its own coalition which even with the support of the Swedish Democrats and Liberals is unlikely to win the majority.

“Now the speaker of parliament has to sound up alternative options, but there is no obvious way to move towards a new government,” wrote former Twitter center-right Prime Minister Carl Bildt.

One possibility, used earlier in neighboring Finland and in Germany and Iceland, would be a grand coalition between the Social Democrats and the center-right parties.

Lofven told the Financial Times on Monday: “I haven’t ruled it out. If the country gets into a situation that requires it, then I’m open. But I can’t see it now.”

He added that the quick elections would take four months to hold and even then there was no guarantee that they would give a clearer parliamentary framework. Given that two possible scenarios by the health authorities are for an increase in Covid cases since August, Lofven said it would be better to try before forming a coalition from the current parliament rather than “transmitting” it to voters.

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