Sweden’s Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven to be proposed as PM

Sweden's Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven to be proposed as PM
Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven. Photo: Anders Wiklund / TT
The leader of Sweden's Social Democrats, Stefan Löfven, will be proposed as the country's next prime minister in an effort to break the ongoing political deadlock.

Parliamentary speaker Andreas Norlén made the announcement on Friday morning.

He said Löfven would be formally nominated on Monday, December 3rd, giving Löfven ten days to talk to other party leaders and try to gather support for a government. After that, the vote must take place within four days, which means it would happen before parliament votes on its budget on December 12th.

In theory, a government proposal does not need a single vote in its favour in order to pass, but it will fail if a majority votes against it. This means that a government can be “tolerated” by abstentions, sometimes called “passive support”.

Löfven is likely to gain the support of his own party and coalition partners the Green Party and Left Party, but would not be supported by a majority unless one or more of the centre-right Centre Party, Moderates or Christian Democrats, or the far-right Sweden Democrats, also vote for the proposal or abstain.

The most likely to do so is the Centre Party, as well as the Liberals (the fourth member of the centre-right Alliance), but the latter alone does not have enough seats to prevent the proposal from failing.

Norlén remained tight-lipped during the press conference, declining to speculate about Löfven's chances of succeeding in the vote or to disclose what the party leaders had said during phonecalls on Friday.

“I can state that it continues to be a difficult situation,” he said.

TIMELINE: Everything that's happened in Swedish politics since the election

There is no set deadline by which Sweden must form a government, but the number of prime ministerial votes that can be held before a snap election is automatically called is capped at four.

The vote on Löfven will be the second chance after parliament voted down Moderates leader Ulf Kristersson. This happened after the Centre Party and Liberals, which are in a four-party Alliance with the Moderates and Christian Democrats, refused to back a government that relied on support from the far-right Sweden Democrats. This means the country is now in untested waters — previously, parliament had always accepted the first candidate to be proposed.

Löfven, Kristersson, and Centre Party leader Annie Lööf have also all been given mandates as sonderingsperson, giving them the responsibility to carry out talks aimed at forming a workable coalition. They have all failed to arrive at a solution, with Lööf abandoning her bid on Thursday. Meanwhile, Löfven continues to lead a caretaker government tasked with the day-to-day responsibilities of government but not meant to make any partisan decisions.

Norlén said he had chosen not to nominate a new sonderingsperson as this would be “too weak” a move. “There is a need for tempo and clear time limits,” he said, adding that he thought there was “impatience among Swedish citizens” as the government talks dragged on.

“It's a completely new situation in Swedish politics which needs to be worked out. The Centre Party, for example, I don't think even they know what they want,” political scientist Mikael Gilljam told the TT newswire ahead of Friday's announcement.

IN DEPTH: How did the political situation get to where it is today?

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