Sweden’s Centre Party drops market rent demand: What does this mean for the government?

Sweden's Centre Party has dropped its demand for market rents to be introduced after the issue led to the government being toppled earlier this week, Swedish media reported on Wednesday afternoon.

Sweden's Centre Party drops market rent demand: What does this mean for the government?
Market rents had been a core issue for Centre Party leader Annie Lööf, pictured, but the Left Party's opposition to the policy sparked a political crisis this week. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

“Since the proposal is no longer on the table, we think it is important that we adjust the January Agreement to get a better balance,” Centre Party leader Annie Lööf told the Dagens Nyheter daily, referring to the 73-point policy agreement made between the government and Centre and Liberal parties. 

She said that the proposal to introduce market rents “lacks a majority in parliament, and is therefore no longer on the table”.

The Left Party, which backs the centre-left government but strongly opposes market rents, first said it would pursue a vote of no confidence over the planned rent proposals, but the motion was ultimately put forward by the Sweden Democrats, who unlike the Left had enough MPs to submit it.

The motion was passed by a majority of parliamentarians after the Moderate and Christian Democrats voted in favour. Although these parties support market rents, they are against the centre-left government. The vote was the first time a sitting prime minister was toppled by a no-confidence motion, after Stefan Löfven’s governments previously survived six such votes.

So what now?

Lööf told Dagens Nyheter she wants to see an updated version of the January Agreement, dropping the proposal on market rents and instead introducing tax cuts for low- and medium- earners, and on investment savings accounts (ISKs). 

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has until next Monday to decide between calling a snap election or resigning and asking the speaker of parliament to start talks aimed at forming a new government.

If he does opt to resign, Löfven’s government could still make a comeback, but to do that it would need the support of both the Centre and Left parties, which would secure it a narrow majority. Currently, the government is also supported by the Liberals who were part of the original January Agreement, but that party have said they now consider the agreement void and that they would pursue a right-of-centre government led by the Moderates.

The news comes after intensive talks between the ruling Social Democrats, junior coalition partner the Green Party, and the Centre and Left parties. The latter two fall some way apart on the left-right political spectrum but both prefer a government led by Löfven to the right-wing government that would rely on support from the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats.

Lööf maintained to Dagens Nyheter that she would not cooperate with either the Left Party or the Sweden Democrats on a budget, suggesting that a ‘June deal’ between the government, Centre and Left — something that one government minister had hinted could be a possibility — is not on the cards.

In order for Löfven to return to the PM role, then, he would need to agree with the Centre Party on updates to the January Agreement that both their parties can accept, and which would also be palatable enough to the Left Party that they would not vote against the government.

Member comments

  1. In other words, if Lööf had dropped her market rent demands before last Monday’s vote, rather than now, the government crisis would have been avoided. Talk about petty political games. And I’d bet a few people in and around the Stockholm political bubble could shoot both her and Dadgostar for ruining their plans for Midsommar and the beginning if not all of their summer holiday. Cheers!

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Five of Sweden’s political parties planned to evade party financing laws

Five of the eight political parties in the Swedish parliament discussed evading party financing laws with a businessman secretly working with journalists, a new investigation by broadcaster TV4 has found.

Five of Sweden's political parties planned to evade party financing laws

“There’s every reason to demand moral and political responsibility,” political scientist Jonas Hinnfors said of how Sweden’s society should react to the investigation’s findings. “It’s a threat to democracy.”

The new law on donations to political parties which came into force in 201  dictates that parties must declare all donations received from private individuals or businesses. Donators can remain anonymous, byt only as long as their donation does not exceed 24,150 kronor (€2,281). Larger donations must be declared along with the name of the donor.

The Kalla Fakta team which produced the documentary hired two businessmen to call each parliamentary party and ask how they could donate half a million kronor, while staying anonymous. The conversations were recorded and meetings filmed with a hidden camera.

Three parties – the Centre Party, the Left Party and the Green Party – said that it wasn’t possible for the donor to remain anonymous. 

But the other five parties – the Social Democrats, the Moderates, the Sweden Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Liberals – suggested different ways of getting around the requirements.

Christian Democrat press secretary Peter Kullgren suggested splitting up donations and donating to individual candidates so that each donation remained under the legal limit.

Another method, proposed by Sweden Democrat head of finance Lena-Karin Lifvenhjelm, consisted of giving the money to another individual who would donate it under their name instead.

Magdalena Agrell, the Social Democrat’s head of finance, discussed finding someone else to act as a front in recorded telephone conversations.

The chairman and communications chief of the Social Democrat’s youth organisation, Diyar Cicek and Youbert Aziz, suggested that the businessman instead create a foundation to donate the money.

The Moderate Party’s ombudsman Patrik Haggren proposed that donations could be sent from different members of the businessman’s family in order to remain anonymous.

Lisa Flinth, who is responsible for leadership support in the Liberal Party, also proposed this method, providing the contact details of a middleman, the consultant Svend Dahl.

Dahl first proposed that his company send an invoice of half a million kronor to the businessman, but later suggested that the money be transferred to him to donate to the Liberals in his name, thereby avoiding having to pay tax.

“It’s important you keep yourself anonymous,” Dahl said in Kalla Fakta‘s recordings of conversations with the undercover businessman.

Dahl is a political scientist and has previously been head of media organisation Liberala Nyhetsbyrån.

Flinth was well aware of the fact that the method undermines the aim of the law, telling the businessman in a telephone conversation that it was very important that nothing could be traced back to the party.

“It could have serious consequences,” she said. “We don’t really have any margins when it comes to credibility.”

“If there was an article about this in the middle of a heated election campaign and we miss the threshold for getting in to parliament, I would never forgive myself,” she said.

Political scientist Jonas Hinnfors, who commented on the conversation for the Kalla Fakta team, said he was shocked after hearing it.

“They know what the point of the new legislation is,” he told Kalla Fakta. “Going against that is political dynamite.”

In a written comment on their website, the Liberals’ vice-party secretary Gustav Georgson stated that the party would not use Dahl’s consulting services again and that it “takes the statements made by Kalla Fakta seriously and will act forcefully to avoid similar situations happening again.”