Following a two month period since Sweden held its last general election, the representatives of the Riksdag, Sweden’s national legislature, rejected the proposed minority coalition which would have been led by the nation’s second largest party, the Moderates. The vote which was held on the 14th, came in at 195 to 154 to block the plan from advancing. The outcome was a shock, as it became the first time in Swedish history that a proposal for a new prime minister did not pass. Should the vote have been successful, Moderates leader Ulf Kristersson would have become the new prime minister. The coalition would have consisted of the Moderates and the smaller party, the Christian Democrats.
The vote was the first of a possible four to confirm a new coalition. If all four fail to pass, Speaker of the Riksdag, Andreas Norlén, must call for a new election. The failure of the vote is indicative of political deadlock within the Riksdag. Trouble establishing a coalition after an election has been an issue in other European nations as well. Both Belgium and the Netherlands have dealt with extended periods of time without an official government due to difficulties in agreeing upon a coalition. After Belgium’s 2010 elections, their Chamber of Representatives took an astounding 541 days to lock in the new coalition. Hopefully, the Riksdag won’t take as long.
The previous election in Sweden resulted in each of the party blocs, the left, and center-right, garnering around 40% of the vote, which left both of them short of the necessary amount to secure the majority, a situation known as a hung parliament. Thus, the nation was left in a state of political limbo, with its citizens unsure what sort of coalition would end up governing them.
Those in opposition of the coalition noted that their main issue stemmed from their belief that such a coalition would allow the Sweden Democrats to have a larger role in the government. According to the Associated Press, the Sweden Democrats, known for their anti-immigrant stance, have seen both party blocs openly refuse to cooperate with them. The party has been extremely controversial and even has roots in a neo-Nazi movement. In the most recent election, they gained 13 seats, while the top two parties, the Social Democrats and the Moderates lost 13 and 14, respectively.
The rise of the Sweden Democrats has been attributed to the dramatic rise in migrants entering Sweden. In 2015 alone, Sweden took in 163,000 migrants, which was the highest per capita of any European country, according to the Associated Press. The nation has since instituted strict immigration regulation, but the rise of xenophobia in the nation didn’t stop. As such, the Sweden Democrats have seen growth in popularity due to these sentiments harbored by some of the population.
Going forward after the failed vote, Norlén has asked the leader of the Centre Party, Annie Lööf, to potentially lead the formation of a new coalition. According to Politico, at a press conference, Norlén said, “There is a broad acceptance among the party leaders to give her the assignment.” Loof has made it clear she does not want to be considered for prime minister, but she would be willing to help form a coalition. Stefan Löfven, Caretaker Prime Minister and head of Sweden’s top party, the Social Democrats, has noted he would be willing to discuss coalition formation with Lööf, should she end up being in charge. Citizens of Sweden are hopeful that negotiations will go smoothly, and an official government will be established in the near future.