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Swedish PM resigns: What happens now?

Swedish PM resigns: What happens now?
A new government would need to be backed by a majority of an increasingly fractured parliament. File photo: Carl-Olof Zimmerman/TT
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven resigned on Monday to trigger a process aimed at finding a new Swedish government. Here's a look at the possible scenarios for what happens next.

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

This is a series of talks between the speaker and the leaders of the parties represented in Sweden’s parliament, to find out who will be able to form a government that commands a parliamentary majority. 

There is no time limit on how long this can take, and the current fractured state of Swedish politics means it could take a while for a compromise to be reached. 

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The speaker can propose prime ministerial candidates when he thinks someone has a good chance of breaking the deadlock, but this can only happen a maximum of four times. In order to take up the role of PM, the candidate must pass a vote in parliament, which means that a majority of MPs must not vote against them (abstentions therefore effectively count as votes in favour). If four consecutive proposed candidates are unsuccessful, snap elections must be called.

Potential prime ministerial nominees include Löfven, Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson, and Centre Party leader Annie Lööf, all of whom were given the task of trying to break the deadlock after the 2018 election.

The seats in parliament are divided the same way they were after the last election, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the same result (a Social Democrat-Green government) is inevitable. 

Löfven’s minority government was based on a 73-point deal with the conservative Centre and Liberal parties, which have traditionally stood in opposition to the Social Democrats but agreed to allow them to govern in exchange for this considerable policy influence. However, the Liberal Party has changed leaders since that agreement was met, and new leader Nyamko Sabuni has so far refused to renegotiate the deal, saying her party will pursue a right-wing government.

Without the support of the Liberals, Löfven’s government can still scrape a parliamentary majority (175 mandates) with the support of the Centre, Left Party, and at least one of Sweden’s two independent MPs. The Centre Party has agreed to drop its demand for market rents, the policy that first led the Left Party to propose a no-confidence vote, and both these parties prefer a centre-left government to a  right-wing one that would rely on support from the far-right Sweden Democrats.

The right-wing bloc made up of the Moderates, Christian Democrats and Liberal Party counts 111 seats, rising to 173 with the Sweden Democrats. This bloc can also likely count on a vote from one of the independent MPs. If the Centre Party, or even just one or two MPs, chooses to break with the centre-left, the right-wing bloc would have a clear majority. 

If the situation remains deadlocked and no governing majority can be found, there will be no alternative than to announce a snap election.

This vote must take place no later than three months after it is announced, and even if snap polls go ahead, the general election scheduled for September 2022 will still happen as planned. 


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