Stefan Löfven welcomes start of 'historic' era in Swedish politics

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Stefan Löfven welcomes start of 'historic' era in Swedish politics
Stefan Löfven speaking in parliament on Monday. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Stefan Löfven addressed the Swedish parliament for the first time on Monday after being voted back in as prime minister a record 131 days after the election.


Social Democrat leader Löfven, who only managed to secure reelection after striking a controversial deal with his former centre-right rivals in parliament, described the day as "the start of a historic collaboration".

After tough negotiations, the Liberals and the Centre Party last week chose to throw their support behind Löfven instead of their right-wing allies. They argued it was in order to avoid a government that would inadvertently be forced to rely on the far-right nationalist Sweden Democrats in parliament.

"All around Europe, extreme right-wing movements are spreading. In several countries, forces with an antidemocratic agenda have made it all the way to government. But in Sweden we stand up for the equal value of all people. We are choosing a different path," Löfven told parliament on Monday.

Sweden has never before gone this long without a government. A tight September 9th election meant the parties were long unable to find enough common ground, until the Social Democrats, Greens, Centre and Liberals struck a deal allowing Löfven to govern in exchange for slightly more right-wing policies.

Some of the proposals in the deal include abolishing rent controls on newly built apartments and introducing language and civics tests as a requirement for becoming a Swedish citizen.

"Setting high standards for people and giving them a lot of opportunities helps them to grow," said Löfven.

READ ALSO: What does Sweden's government deal mean for internationals?

He said that Sweden would not seek to join Natp, despite the Centre and Liberals both supporting Nato membership. But he added that "if another Nordic or EU country suffers a disaster or an attack, Sweden will not remain passive. We expect these countries to act in the same way if Sweden is similarly affected."

Speaking about EU policies, he said that Sweden would work to ensure that Brexit "is accomplished in an orderly way. We are prepared to handle various scenarios."

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As The Local has previously reported, the deal also includes extending Sweden's temporary migration law for another two years. "Sweden's reception of refugees must be sustainable in the long term," said Löfven.

Despite the cross-bloc deal, Löfven's government is likely to be one of the weakest in recent Swedish history, facing challenges both from the conservative parties and from his colleagues on the left.

The Left Party lent its backing only reluctantly, and its leader said repeatedly that his party is "prepared to bring down this government" if they go beyond the "clear boundaries" he said he had outlined to Löfven.

In particular, that means that if Löfven puts forward proposals supporting the Centre and Liberals' policies on deregulating the housing and labour market, the government could be in crisis.

Löfven also presented his new cabinet on Monday. We will have more for you on shortly on who the new ministers are. In the meantime, you can read an English translation of today's speech here.


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