In a dramatic move that inflames an ongoing constitutional row, Speaker of the Riksdag Per Westerberg rejected a vote called by the centre-left opposition parties and the far-right Sweden Democrats against a government move to raise the threshold for payment of state income tax.
However, in the vote that followed the opposition won a motion to refer the issue to the powerful Committee on the Constitution (Konstitutionsutskottet, KU) which will examine the issue on Friday, and likely give a response next week.
The row centres on the laws governing the workings of the Riksdag. According to Westerberg and the government, Sweden’s parliament is obliged to either accept the government’s budget as a whole or to propose an alternative budget for which it can get a majority. The law is intended to make it possible for a minority government to pass its budget.
The opposition, however, claims that in certain circumstances it is permissible for the Riksdag to reject certain parts of a budget, as long as this does not have a negative effect on the public finances.
Westerberg had ordered a committee to investigate the right of the opposition to reject parts of the budget, and said as recently as Wednesday that he would stick with their findings.
The government tax cut in question entails raising the threshold for paying state tax so that it covers only incomes of 36,000 kronor ($5,530) or more per month. The government calculates that this would reduce the tax bills of roughly a million Swedes.
The Social Democrats were unimpressed with the speaker’s actions.
"We think the speaker has made an inaccurate assessment," Mikael Damberg, leader of the Social Democrat party representatives, told the TT news agency.