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Sweden’s Left Party gives government 48 hours to scrap market rent bid or face no-confidence threat

Sweden’s Left Party has given the government a 48-hour deadline to throw out its proposal to abolish a hotly-debated rent cap on newbuilds – or it will try to organise a vote of no-confidence.

Sweden's Left Party gives government 48 hours to scrap market rent bid or face no-confidence threat
Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar told a press conference on Tuesday morning that her party’s attempts to discuss the controversial proposal with Social Democrat Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and the Centre Party had been repeatedly rejected.

She said the Left Party would not back the proposal, which would see market rents introduced for newly built apartments in Sweden. “Our support is not there if the government goes through with proposals on market rents or free rent-setting,” said Dadgostar.

Sweden’s housing market is currently strictly regulated, with municipal and state-regulated rental companies prevented from charging tenants above a certain price level. The proposal to scrap rent caps on newbuilds is part of the so-called January Agreement, in which the Social Democrat-Green government agreed to go forward with some of the Centre and Liberal parties’ policies in exchange for their support.

According to its supporters (mainly on the right), abolishing the cap on newbuilds will create more apartments and shorter housing queues. Its critics (mainly on the left) worry it is the first step towards rolling out market rents for all apartments, and will lead to higher rents.

Dadgostar put two choices to the government on Tuesday: either throw out the proposal completely, or immediately start negotiations with the Swedish Tenants’ Union (Hyresgästföreningen) to improve the proposal.

“If the government does not accept either alternative, we no longer have confidence in Stefan Löfven,” said Dadgostar.

It is unclear how the Left Party would move forward with a no-confidence vote. To hold such a vote at least 35 members of parliament need to sign the motion, but the Left Party only has 27 seats. The conservative Moderates and Christian Democrats (who don’t support the government, but do back market rents) have said they will not sign it.

The Sweden Democrats have said they would be willing to join forces with the Left Party for a no-confidence vote, but the Left has rejected the help of the anti-immigration party. The two parties are on opposite ends of the Swedish political spectrum.

If the Left Party manages to hold a vote, at least 175 of the country’s 349 members of parliament would need to vote in favour for the motion to pass. This means that it would ultimately need the support of the Moderates, Christian Democrats and the Sweden Democrats.

Tune in to The Local’s new podcast, Sweden in Focus, on Saturday, as we discuss this article in more detail.

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SWEDEN ELECTS

Sweden Elects: The latest political news as the election campaign kicks off

What's Sweden talking about this week? In The Local's Sweden Elects newsletter, editor Emma Löfgren rounds up some of the main talking points ahead of the Swedish election.

Sweden Elects: The latest political news as the election campaign kicks off

In an interview that could have jeopardised his job a decade ago, Social Democrat Immigration Minister Anders Ygeman’s suggestion in DN that there should be a 50 percent cap on non-Nordic immigrants in troubled areas of Swedish cities showed how the debate has shifted in recent years.

That said, his comments did not go without criticism. The Left Party slammed them as “racist”, the Greens and the Centre Party also criticised them, and so did the Moderates and some within the Social Democrats.

Ygeman himself said that he had been misunderstood, that he had never meant it as an actual proposal, and that factors such as crime and unemployment were far more important in terms of integration.

“But of course segregation is not just class-based, it also has an ethnic dimension. If you have areas where almost everyone is from other countries, it’s harder to learn Swedish, and if it’s harder to learn Swedish, it’s harder to get a job,” he told public broadcaster SVT.

What do you think? Email me if you want to share your thoughts.

Campaign posters and a new poll

The centre-left Social Democrats and the Moderates, the largest right-wing opposition party, both unveiled their campaign posters last week, which I guess means that the summer holiday lull is officially over and the election campaign is now definitely under way. Just over a month to go.

It’s interesting that the Social Democrats are clearly trying to turn this into a “presidential” style campaign, taking advantage of Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson’s overwhelming popularity compared to the Moderates’ Ulf Kristersson, whose reception among voters is lukewarm.

A poll by the DN newspaper and Ipsos a month ago suggested that 37 percent of voters want to see Andersson as prime minister, compared to 22 percent who preferred Kristersson (12 percent preferred the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats’ leader Jimmie Åkesson, and the other party leaders did not get more than four percent each).

Andersson is in the unique position where voters like her way more than they like her party – a new opinion poll by Demoskop suggests that 28.7 percent would vote for the Social Democrats if the election was held today (the Moderates would get 20.3 percent). The same poll has all the right-wing parties with a slight majority compared to the left-wing parties.

Anyway, the Social Democrats’ campaign posters cover pensions, schools (specifically, limiting profit-making free schools), crime and law and order. Climate change is conspicuously absent, but a party spokesperson told reporters it will be more prominent in its social media campaigns.

When Kristersson, on the other hand, spoke at his party’s event to kick off their election campaign, he emphasised how he’s got a viable coalition on his side – a jibe at the Social Democrats, who will struggle to get their partners (specifically the Centre and Left parties) to collaborate.

He also reiterated his praise for the Sweden Democrats, and The Local asked several experts if the Moderates are the same party that fought the 2018 election, when Kristersson promised Holocaust survivor Hédi Fried he would not cooperate with the Sweden Democrats after the election.

Election pledges

The Local’s Becky Waterton has looked at the election pledges of Sweden’s four main parties, the Social Democrats, Moderates, Sweden Democrats and Centre Party. Click here to read her guide, it’s a really useful roundup.

And what about Covid? Is Sweden’s handling of the pandemic not going to be a talking point in this election? No, at least not if the parties have their way. The Social Democrats run the government, but most of the regions (who are in charge of healthcare) are run by right-wing coalitions. So from a strictly realpolitik perspective, no party is able to attack another without putting themselves at risk of becoming a target. Best forget about it.

In other political news…

… a Sweden Democrat member of parliament has been accused of sending unsolicited dick pics to women, the Moderates want to legalise altruistic surrogacy in Sweden, the Christian Democrats want a national scheme to improve maternity care, the Liberals want to make it harder for people with a criminal record to become Swedish citizens, and Centre Party leader Annie Lööf hit the campaign trail just before the weekend by pledging to reject any proposal for raised taxes after the election.

Sweden Elects is a weekly column by Editor Emma Löfgren looking at the big talking points and issues in the Swedish election race. Members of The Local Sweden can sign up to receive the column plus several extra features as a newsletter in their email inbox each week. Just click on this “newsletters” option or visit the menu bar.

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