Sunday, 1 March 2015

Sweden's Political Crisis

Sweden's prime minister Stefan Lofven
As a result of having Swedish family and therefore spending a lot of time in Sweden myself, I have found myself increasingly aware, and interested in, the current political crisis in Sweden. It is also extremely relevant to us in the UK with the upcoming general election, as British political analysts are afraid that the same situation could occur here.

After the Swedish general election in September 2014, no one party had the majority of the vote. The Prime Minister of the new government (and leader of the Social Democratic Party) had to create a hurried coalition of small, unpopular parties to be able to support the government. However, this coalition still only had 38% of support from MPs. The only party able to make a substantial difference to this and create a majority government was the Sweden Democrats who received 13% of the vote. However, the Sweden Democrats are an extremist, anti-immigration party, whose British equivalent would be UKIP. No party, therefore, was willing to cooperate with them and the only option was to form a minority government. Political analysts say that this could have worked, but…

On the 3rd December 2014, a vote was held at parliament to vote in the budget. In Sweden, unlike Britain, each block of parties puts forward its own budget for a vote. Traditionally, though, the proposed budget of the current government is voted for. This time, however, the government did not have the majority support and the Sweden Democrats found themselves with the deciding vote. They voted for the opposition coalition party’s budget. This was because the Social Democratic-Green coalition’s budget did not comply with their aim to decrease immigration in Sweden by 90%.

The Prime Minister, Stefan Lofven, could not ignore this vote and the huge power for parties with more extreme views, as his government collapsed as a result. Therefore, in a hope to rectify the situation, a re-election has been called for the 22nd March this year – the first mid-term election in Sweden since the 1950s. This sudden political instability in a country which has had very stable, predictable governments for decades has scared other European countries and warned them of the rise of populist parties. In particular, British politicians have become wary. Recently, a new act was passed stating that a new election can only be called if two-thirds of parliament agree to this. It is thought that the timing of a new election will never suit two-thirds of parliament and it will not be possible to hold a new election. The main parties are afraid that if the general election of this year goes badly for them, but well for UKIP, they will find themselves in the same position as Sweden. But with no way of getting out of it.