The leader of the Social Democrats, after ruling for almost seven years, lost a plan to ease rent control over newly built apartments.
Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lվենfven has lost a no-confidence vote by giving the Social Democrat leader a week to resign and hand over the reins to a new government or call snap elections.
Sweden’s nationalist Democrats took the opportunity to vote in parliament on Monday after the Left Party withdrew its support for the center-right government in a plan to ease rent control over newly built apartments.
Sweden is in a housing crisis, and real estate prices are rising in the country.
Lofven, 63, has been Sweden’s prime minister since 2014. He is the first Swedish prime minister to lose a no-confidence motion.
Sweden Democrat leader Mimi Akesson told parliament that the government was harmful, historically weak, adding: “It should never have come to power.”
The mediation, which required 175 votes in the 349-seat parliament, was supported by 181 lawmakers.
Left party levels blame Lofven
Lofven’s shocking minority coalition with the Greens has relied on two small center-right parties, the Left and the Left Party, in the run-up to the 2018 general election.
The Left Party blamed Lofven for the crisis.
“It is not the Left Party that has renounced the Social Democratic government, but the Social Democratic government that has renounced the Left Party, the Swedish people,” said Noshi Dadgostar, the leader of the Left Party.
In the event of a parliamentary stalemate, it is unclear to whom the speaker can turn to form a new government if Lofven resigns.
Opinion polls show that center-left and right-wing blocs are evenly balanced, so snap elections may not bring clarity either.
Dadgostar said that while his party had voted against Lofven, it would never help the “right-wing nationalist government” to take power.
The new government or interim administration will only sit until the parliamentary elections, which are scheduled for September next year.
Housing market problems
At the heart of the dispute are plans to dismantle the Swedish housing market as prices accelerate during the epidemic.
Sweden has strict rent regulations aimed at maintaining affordable prices in larger cities. However, this does not deter real estate developers from building new homes for the rental market.
People may find themselves waiting for a lease for years, while buying property becomes increasingly difficult as prices fluctuate.
The Left Party fears that a deregulation of the rental market will lead to a rapid rise in prices, “a deeper divide between the rich and the poor.”
Over the weekend, Lofve met at the last minute to try to secure a parliamentary majority for his proposed reforms.
On Sunday, he tried to soften the reforms by inviting landlords and tenants to negotiate.
However, Dadgostar opposed the Left Party’s decision to oppose Lofven, saying his efforts were a “political show”.
“We did something that is unusual in politics … we kept our word,” he said.