Sweden PM Loses Confidence Vote, expected to Step Down as Political Uncertainty Looms

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Stefan Lovfen lost a parliamentary vote as the ramifications of indecisive results in elections held earlier this month started hitting home. The Swedish Prime Minister had 204 votes against him with 142 in favour, with the nationalist Sweden Democrats(SD) demonstrating their new found influence. The election had the centre-right opposition parties with 143 seats finely poised against 144 seats for the ruling centre-left bloc.

The Sweden Democrats, who backed the no confidence vote, managed 62 seats, a significant percentage improvement from the last election. With a problematic white supremacist background and a hard line anti-immigration stance, the SD has largely been shunned by mainstream parties that vowed not to work with the party. The SD on its part seems eager to throw about its new found weight, with leader Jimmie Åkesson threatening to bring down any attempt to form a government that doesn’t give it a say in policy formulation.

The development has plunged the country into uncertainty, as politicians seek to work out a configuration to form the next government. A touted possibility is the designation of the leader of the Moderates, Ulf Kristersson as Prime Minister by newly confirmed speaker Andreas Norlen who was supported by the SD. Even though most analysts support this outcome, it remains to be seen where Mr. Kristersson would garner the numbers as it is unlikely that the centre-left would offer the needed support. This leaves the unpleasant prospect of working the SD, an option that has been deemed unthinkable in the recent past.

It is still too early to speculate, with a slim possibility that PM Lovfen might be part of the next government. What is clear is the difficulty in forming a stable government in the present situation, as the speaker is handed the responsibility of proposing the next PM. With all possible agreements requiring heavy compromise, the process is expected to last at least weeks or months.

The law mandates a fresh election within three months if four attempts at forming a government are unsuccessful. That seems undesirable for all parties as its unlikely voters’ position will significantly change.