Swedish prime minister vote postponed – and here’s why

Swedish prime minister vote postponed – and here's why
The speaker of parliament, Andreas Norlén. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT
Parliamentary speaker Andreas Norlén has given party leaders another 48 hours to resolve their differences after a slighted Left Party vowed to reject Stefan Löfven’s deal with the centre-liberal parties.

READ ALSO: All the latest on Sweden's government negotiations

Norlén said that in light of new developments, he had decided to postpone today's planned nomination of a new prime minister candidate by two days, pushing Wednesday's scheduled parliament vote to Friday.

He had originally been expected to name Social Democrat leader Löfven on Monday after his party last week reached a deal with two former opposition rivals, the Centre Party and the Liberals, and the Green Party.

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But this deal would have also required the Left Party – who were not only not part of the deal, but who were explicitly excluded from influence during the coming term by the deal – to either vote in favour or abstain, in order for Löfven to pass a parliamentary vote. Left Party leader Jonas Sjöstedt told reporters on Monday afternoon that his party was not prepared to do this, “if the situation remains unchanged”.

Löfven now has two days to reach out to the Left Party without losing the support of the Centre and Liberals.

Norlén, who told party leaders before Christmas to reach a solution by Monday, criticized them for not having managed to secure enough support in parliament for their proposed deal before the deadline.

He said he was reluctant to extend the deadline, but added that after having been asked to do so by some of the party leaders he felt that he “could not in good conscience” refuse to allow more time for talks.

Earlier on Monday, Sjöstedt stressed that his Left Party wanted to see Löfven stay on as prime minister, but said that the two parties would need to carry out further talks. 

Sjöstedt would not specify exactly what changes he was hoping for, but said: “There are some unreasonable aspects [of the proposed deal] that need to be dealt with first. We are looking for routes forward. We are going to use the coming days to find solutions, which I'm convinced Löfven also wants.”

Under the proposed agreement, the Social Democrats and Green Party would govern with backing from the Centre and Liberal parties. The latter two parties have been part of the centre-right Alliance in opposition to the Social Democrat-Green coalition for the past four years.

Any potential Swedish government does not need a majority of MPs to vote in its favour in order to govern; the system of negative parliamentarism instead just requires that a majority does not vote against it. This system, which favours the formation of minority governments, means that parties can give 'passive support' such as abstaining in the prime ministerial vote, allowing the government to pass.

However, the four parties included in Löfven's agreement have only 167 seats between them, which means they do not have a majority among parliament's 349 members.

With the right-wing parties – the Moderates, Christian Democrats and Sweden Democrats – voting against the deal, this means that Löfven needs the Left Party's 28 members of parliament to either vote in favour or abstain in Friday's prime minister vote in order to avoid a majority of 'no' votes.

Earlier on Monday, Löfven stressed that he had appreciated working together with the Left Party, who were involved in budget negotiations during the last term, but that it had been important to the centre-liberal parties to stake out a new political course.

He said that it would be possible to cooperate with the Left Party on political issues not included in the four-party agreement, but that the agreement itself could not be changed.

The number of votes on prime ministerial candidates that can be held before a second election is forced is capped at four. If a vote does take place on Wednesday, it would be the third such vote, after both Löfven and Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson have earlier been rejected by parliament.

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