Centre-left leader Stefan Löfven to face parliamentary vote as PM

Centre-left leader Stefan Löfven to face parliamentary vote as PM
Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven on his way to talk to reporters. Photo: Claudio Bresciani / TT
UPDATED: The leader of Sweden's centre-left Social Democrats, Stefan Löfven, will face a parliamentary vote on his candidacy as prime minister this week.

Parliamentary speaker Andreas Norlén formally proposed Löfven as PM on Wednesday morning, with the vote taking place on Friday.

Löfven hopes to form a government with the Green Party, with whom his party has governed since 2014.

“I have, in discussions with the speaker, confirmed that I am ready to be nominated as prime minister of a government with the Social Democrats and Green Party, We are ready to work with all the parties in parliament who stand up for democratic values and breaking bloc politics,” he said in a written comment to the TT newswire. 

“It is important that the process moves forward so that Sweden can get a government in place as quickly as possible.”

However, the Centre Party and Liberals have said they won't support Löfven, making it less likely that such a government would pass a parliamentary vote. Convincing these parties, which are part of the centre-right Alliance, to vote in favour of Löfven or abstain from the vote had been the Social Democrats' biggest hope of achieving enough support to be accepted by parliament.

Technically, a proposed government does not need a single vote in its favour; Sweden's system of negative parliamentarianism means it will be accepted as long as a majority does not vote against the proposal.

Löfven has the support of his own party and allies the Left Party and Green Party, but will fall short of a majority if the Centre and Liberals both vote against him, along with the centre-right Moderates and Christian Democrats and the far-right Sweden Democrats.

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

So why is Norlén calling for the vote to go ahead?

“There's a logic to it: for the speaker it's about driving the process forward,” political scientist Tommy Möller told the TT newswire.  “He has, after all, given Löfven a mandate to try to find a government formation and it hasn't worked. The logic is that the closer we get to a fourth and completely decisive vote, the sharper the situation becomes.”

There is no time limit as to how long Sweden has to form a government, and it has now been more than two months since the population went to the polls. But the speaker has a maximum of four chances to ask a candidate to try to form a government that will be accepted by parliament.

The vote on Löfven will be the second of these four official tries, after centre-right leader Ulf Kristersson became Sweden's first ever prime minister candidate to be rejected by parliament. If he is voted down, the speaker will immediately restart talks with the party leaders in order to work out the next step.

If all four attempts are unsuccessful, a snap election must be called. This is not something that any of the major political parties have advocated for.

“I believe that it would be more than damaging for the public's trust in the whole political system if we were forced into a second election,” said speaker Norlén on Wednesday.

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