Snap Sweden Election after Anti-Immigration Party Causes Collapse of Government

Snap Sweden Election after Anti-Immigration Party Causes Collapse of Government

Less than three months after he came to power, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has been forced to call another election.

The move came after his left-of-centre minority government failed to get their budget passed through the Riksdag after the Swedish Democrats sided with the opposition.

Mr Lofven told reporters he was calling a new election so that voters could “make a choice in the face of this new political landscape” where the right wing party, which holds 49 seats, has emerged as king-maker.

The Prime Minister caused controversy in his first few weeks as leader by saying the country would now recognise Palestine as a sovereign state.

He accused the right wing parties of not engaging with him and his party over the budget and complained that other parties had allowed the hard right to dictate terms.

Shortly after the elections in September, Mr Lofven ruled out any coalition with the Swedish Democrats who became the third largest party in the country.

“We need a strong government” he told BBC news at the time. “Our party and I will take the responsibility so that Sweden will get a strong government not depending on the Sweden Democrats.”

At a hastily called press conference Mr Lofven, standing along side Gustav Fridolin from the Greens, told reporters: “We have formed a government, we have a budget, and we will go into the elections with that.”

The Social Democrats formed a minority government with the Greens but between them they have only 138 seats in the 349-seat parliament.

That means for major votes such as the crucial budget, he has to cross the floor to secure support from other parties. He spent hours on Tuesday trying to make agreements in order to get the document passed, but ultimately failed.

The Swedish Democrats have seen a huge increase in their support as they demand a reversal of the country’s liberal immigration policy.

Their acting leader Mattias Karlsson, told Reuters, “Our ambition is to make sure this election campaign … becomes a referendum for or against increased immigration.”

Sweden has offered permanent residence to all those fleeing the fighting in Syria and its migration board says that as many as 2000 people were applying each week.

The country now has the highest rate of asylum applications in the European Union, although with a new election in the Spring of 2015 a right wing coalition would be likely to change that.

The tough line right wing party has threatened to make Sweden effectively ungovernable unless the country adopts a tough line on immigration including a 90 percent cut in asylum seeker numbers.

The poll will take place on the 22 March.