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Swedish government collapse: So what happens now?

Swedish government collapse: So what happens now?
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven (R) and some of his ministers in parliament on Monday ahead of the vote. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT
The Swedish government collapsed on Monday after Prime Minister Stefan Löfven lost a confidence vote against him. But what happens next?

It might take some time before we get a definite answer to that question, because the Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has seven days to make a decision.

Then, there are basically two possible options: he could call a snap election, or resign, sparking a new round of negotiations between the political parties aimed at forming a new government. 

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Negotiations would be managed by the speaker of parliament, Andreas Norlén, who would start a so-called talmansrunda.

This is a political process where the speaker holds talks with all party leaders to work out who’s got the best chance at forming a government.

There is no time limit on how long this can take (after the September 2018 election the negotiations took more than four months) but there is a limit on how many prime ministerial candidates the speaker can propose: after four candidates, a snap election must be called to break the deadlock.

The seats in parliament are divided the same way they were last time, so the big question is whether any of the parties have changed their mind on which side they would support.

Löfven’s minority government was based on a 72-point deal with the conservative Centre and Liberal parties. One of those points related to introducing market rents on a limited scale by potentially allowing landlords to freely set rents for newly constructed apartments, and that’s what led to the current crisis. The Left Party was not included in the deal and strongly opposes market rents, but its support was needed to prop up the government. 

But don’t rule out Löfven returning. There is a possibility he would be successful in a talmansrunda, if he can gain the support of the Centre, Liberal and Left parties again.

However, the Liberal Party have recently said they would rather see a right-wing government, even if that means some cooperation with the far-right Sweden Democrats. 

If a snap election is called, either shortly after the no-confidence vote or after unsuccessful attempts to form a new government through the talmansrunda process, it needs to happen no later than three months after its announcement, so around September 2021.

Recent political polls show that Löfven’s Social Democrats would get fewer votes in a fresh election; what’s more, the Liberals, currently acting as a support party for the government, have said they would campaign for a conservative government in new elections. But those polls also showed both the Liberals and the Green Party below the four percent threshold needed to get representation in parliament.

If there is a September 2021 election, the election already scheduled for September 2022 would still go ahead as planned, due to laws about fixed terms of office in Sweden.


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