Swedish justice minister survives no-confidence vote

Sweden's justice minister Morgan Johansson has narrowly survived a no-confidence vote in the parliament after his party secured the abstention of a pro-Kurd independent MP.

Swedish justice minister survives no-confidence vote
Justice Minister Morgan Johansson awaits the result of the no-confidence vote on Tuesday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Of Sweden’s 349 MPs, 174 voted to topple the long-serving minister, 97 voted against, 70 abstained and eight were absent, leaving the Sweden Democrats who filed the motion one vote short of the majority needed for it to pass.

As usually happens in Sweden, all MPs present stuck to their party lines, with the Sweden Democrats, Moderates, Christian Democrats, and Liberals all voting to fell Johansson, the Social Democrats voting to keep him, and the MPs for the Centre and Left parties abstaining. 

Johansson’s position, and potentially that of the whole government, hang on the vote of one MP, Amineh Kakabaveh, who left the Left Party in 2019 after a dispute with the party leadership over her campaigning against the oppression of women among immigrant groups in Sweden. 

Kakabaveh agreed to abstain in the vote on Tuesday morning after the Social Democrat’s secretary Tobias Baudin publicly stated that the party would stand by a deal it struck with her last November to support the Kurdish government in northern Syria. Kakabaveh is an Iranian Kurd who fled to Sweden as a teenager. 

After the vote, Kakabaveh ran up to Johansson and hugged him. 

“There has been a lot of pressure on both him and me and now it is over,” she said. “Morgan Johansson has done an extremely good job when it comes to ‘honour crimes’, as I said in the chamber just before the vote. Sometimes we should also praise each other.” 

After the vote, Sweden’s prime minister Magdalena Andersson held a press conference in which she admitted that the political drama could have an impact on Sweden’s Nato application. 

“There’s no doubt that the turbulence of the last few days could affect the image of Sweden, particularly in this sensitive situation,” she said.

She denied, however, that the party had made any additional pledges to Kakabaveh. 

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Centre Party ‘ready to join Social Democrat-led government’

Sweden's Centre Party would consider minister roles in a Social Democrat-led government, the party's leader, Annie Lööf, said on Monday, firmly positioning her party in the left bloc.

Centre Party 'ready to join Social Democrat-led government'

In an interview with newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN), Lööf said that Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson was her clear choice as prime ministerial candidate in the election. 

“I believe Magdalena Andersson has the leadership needed,” she said, citing the current prime minister’s “noticeably better openness for cooperation,” than her rival, Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson. 

Lööf underlined the fact that her support was conditional on “policy anchored in the centre”, and that her party would not support a government that included the Left Party, and would not engage in “organised budget cooperation” with the Left Party. 

When DN asked if this also meant the Centre would be open to governmental positions, Lööf said that the party “would like to be in government with the Social Democrats,” but that this was “presuming policy leans towards the centre”.

Lööf’s decision to set out her position was welcomed by Andersson, who said that “Sweden and Swedish politics needs fewer locked positions and not more”. 

But it was met with criticism from both inside her party, from the opposition, and from the Left Party. 

“We are putting ourselves forward in this election as an independent liberal party and should support which alternative can carry out the most Centre Party politics,” the party’s youth wing wrote on Twitter. “A centre-right liberal party should always hold the door open for several government alternatives.” 

Nooshi Dadgostar, leader of the Left Party, said the decision was “strange”. 

“She seems to be asking for our support to sit in a government without being willing to cooperate with us,” she said. “In that way, it’s strange. the Social Democrats and the Centre Party do not have a majority on their own.” 

In the interview, Lööf was highly critical of the direction the Moderate Party, with whom the Centre Party ruled for eight years, had taken. 


“Unfortunately, we see that the Moderates, Christian Democrats and the Liberal Party have all drifted to the right and deepened their cooperation with the Sweden Democrats,” she said. “This is extremely unfortunate. It is the first time since the arrival of democracy that the right-wing parties are working together with a xenophobic party and standing for election together.” 

However, even though she said Kristersson would have to cut his party’s ties to the Sweden Democrat for her to support him as a prime ministerial candidate, she said she did not rule out working together with her previous allies on the other side of the political divide.

“We are open to continued collaboration over bloc boundaries,” she said. “But that’s conditional on the future prime minister being receptive to where the political majority is located.”