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TIMELINE: The key events that led to the Swedish government’s collapse

TIMELINE: The key events that led to the Swedish government's collapse
Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar speaks in parliament ahead of the vote. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT
Sweden could be facing snap elections after the prime minister was lost an unprecedented no-confidence vote. But after a fraught three years in office, is the biggest surprise the fact that the minority government hung on for so long?

Here’s a look at how we got to this point.

2018

September 9th: Swedish parliamentary elections.

The results are too close to call, but indicate that no one party, and neither the centre-left coalition (Social Democrats, Green Party, Left Party) nor the centre-right Alliance (Moderate Party, Liberal Party, Centre Party, Christian Democrats) have won the 175 parliamentary seats needed to form a majority government. Meanwhile, support rises for the far-right Sweden Democrats (SD), albeit not as significantly as some polls had suggested it might do. 

Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson demands that incumbent Prime Minister Stefan Löfven steps down, but Löfven wants to await the final election results.

September 10th: Liberal Party leader Jan Björklund announces that he will not work with the SD in any way and that any cooperation with them will end the four-party Alliance.

September 25th: Parliament votes to remove Löfven from the prime minister post. SD joins the Alliance in voting him down.

Löfven hands in his resignation but the speaker asks him to stay on as prime minister in a caretaker government.

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October 2nd: The parliamentary speaker names Moderates leader Kristersson as sonderingsperson, giving him the task of holding talks with other party leaders to try to form a government proposal that will be supported by parliament. This is abandoned 12 days later.

October 15th: Löfven is given the task of forming a government, abandoned two weeks later.

November 14th: After Kristersson is given another shot to try to form a government, he is rejected as prime ministerial candidate by a parliamentary vote. Both the Centre and Liberal parties vote against him.

November 15th: Centre Party leader Annie Lööf is given the task to act as sonderingsperson to try to break the political deadlock. She abandons the bid on the 22nd.

November 27th-28th: First the Centre Party, then the Liberals, announce they are open to Löfven becoming PM if he agrees to a set of policies that would move his potential government further to the right.

December 13th: Parliament rejects the budget put forward by the caretaker government, and the budget proposal from the Moderates and Christian Democrats wins a majority of votes.

Although it’s possible to make some changes to the budget in spring, certain decisions such as changes to income tax are fixed for a year, so the result is a blow to the centre-left.

December 14th: Stefan Löfven is rejected by parliament in the vote on his candidacy as PM.

2019

January 13th: A deal between the Social Democrats, Green Party, Centre Party and Liberal Party is confirmed. Even with the backing of all these four parties, it requires support from the Left Party’s 28 MPs in order to be passed by parliament, and Left leader Jonas Sjöstedt initially says his party will not support it.

January 16th: Sweden’s Left Party decides to abstain in another vote on Stefan Löfven as prime minister after getting reassurance they will not wholly lose their political influence on issues not covered by the four-party deal. This means Löfven has enough votes to become prime minister (again), and parliamentary speaker Andreas Norlén formally nominates him in the Riksdag chamber.

January 18th: Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven is voted back in as prime minister.

June 28th: Nyamko Sabuni replaces Jan Björklund as leader of the Liberal Party.

November 28th: Sweden’s parliament votes in favour of the first budget created as part of the January Agreement. As such, it includes some more right-wing policies than would be expected from the Social Democrat-Green government, such as tax cuts for high earners .

December 4th: The leaders of the Sweden Democrats and Moderates announce their first meeting, shortly after the former reaches a record high in one opinion poll.

2020

During the spring, there is to some extent political peace between the parties which meet for cross-party talks on the country’s coronavirus strategy. But in a party leaders’ debate in June, there are signs this peace is thawing, with Christian Democrat leader Ebba Busch accusing the government of “deliberately” allowing the infection to spread, while Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson criticises the government as too weak in its decision-making.

June 3rd: The government announces the results of a review into some of Sweden’s major hiring and firing laws, one of the points agreed under the “January Deal”. These are welcomed by centre-right parties and businesses, but criticised trade unions and even the Social Democratic Prime Minister. The Left Party vows to put forward a vote of no confidence if the government pushes ahead with the changes. Ultimately this does not come to fruition; the government returns to negotiations with unions, and a year later is able to present a set of employment proposals that have a broad consensus.

June 26th: The Social Democrats meet with the Moderates, Christian Democrats, Centre and Liberal parties to discuss migration policy, excluding junior government coalition party the Green Party. This prompts crisis talks within the Greens, with some party board members in favour of quitting the government if the Social Democrats side with right-wing parties over them. Ultimately, the five-party talks collapse.

October 31st: Nooshi Dadgostar replaces Jonas Sjöstedt as leader of the Left Party.

2021

March 28th: The Liberal party votes in favour of campaigning as part of a right-wing alliance in the 2022 general election, approving a proposal from leader Nyamko Sabuni. More controversial is their vote in favour of the party’s leadership negotiating with the populist Sweden Democrats on policy, and even involving them in budget negotiations. 

May 2nd: The Moderate Party, Christian Democrats, Liberal Party, and Sweden Democrats put forward a set of migration policy proposals, the first proposal to be signed jointly by the four parties.

June 2nd: A major party preference survey shows that both the Green Party and Liberal Party would fall below the four percent threshold needed for parliamentary representation if a vote were held today.

June 4th: The government sets out proposals to introduce market rents on newly constructed apartments. The Social Democrats are not entirely happy about the proposal, which is one of the points in the January Deal.

June 15th: Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar gives the government 48 hours to scrap market rent proposals or restart negotiations with the Swedish Tenants’ Union, saying her party will start a vote of no confidence otherwise.

June 17th: Although the government agrees to speak to the Swedish Tenants’ Union, the Left Party does not back down. It does not have enough MPs to submit the no-confidence motion alone, and the Moderate and Christian Democrat parties refuse to sign it. The Left Party does not want the support of the Sweden Democrats, but the latter party (which has enough MPs) submits its own motion of no confidence.

June 21st: Stefan Löfven loses a vote of no confidence with 181 MPs in favour of the motion, as the Left Party join with the Sweden Democrats, Moderates and Christian Democrats. This means Löfven has seven days to either call snap elections or resign, kicking off a new round of talks between parties to form a government.

June 23rd: After a few days of intensive talks between different combinations of parties, the Centre Party’s leader announces she is prepared to drop the demand for market rents. In exchange, she wants updates to the January Agreement between the government, Centre and Liberal Parties, and she maintains she would rather see a snap election called than work directly with the Left Party. 


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