Swedish parliament prepares for crucial budget vote

Swedish parliament prepares for crucial budget vote
Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson and economic spokesperson Elisabeth Svantesson present their budget proposal. Photo: Hanna Franzén / TT
There is still no new government in place two months after the general election, but on Wednesday the Swedish parliament must vote on the budget for 2019.

The caretaker government has presented a transition budget, put together in consultation with the opposition Alliance and the Left Party. This was done in order to keep the proposal as politically neutral as possible, because caretaker governments are not meant to make partisan decisions.

But their proposal looks likely to be voted down.

As things stand, the budget proposal put forward by two Alliance parties, the Moderates and Christian Democrats, is expected to get more votes from parliament.

“From the signals I have received from the different parties, that's quite likely, but nothing is clear until we vote,” the Moderate Party's economic spokesperson Elisabeth Svantesson said in a Swedish TV interview.

The reason their budget looks likely to win most support is because the far-right Sweden Democrats are expected to vote in its favour.

The group emerged as the third largest after Sweden's September election, which has prevented either of the centre-left or centre-right blocs from building a majority. This has been the biggest stumbling block in forming a government: two of the Alliance parties, the Centre and Liberals, have refused to be part of a government that relies on Sweden Democrat support, but they have not yet been persuaded to allow the centre-left Social Democrats to govern either.

Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven has been strongly critical of the opposition budget's reliance on Sweden Democrat support, saying on Tuesday: “This is a situation where the SD get direct, decisive influence in Swedish politics.”

However, Svantesson disagreed with this in her interview with public broadcaster SVT.

“The best way to give them [the SD] influence is that everyone becomes paralyzed in their negotiations and can't move forward with their policies,” she countered.

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