In Brief

What now for Sweden after PM ousted?

Following hung parliament, parties must decide whether to prioritise principles or power

Sweden has been plunged further into turmoil, after the country’s centre-left prime minister was toppled following a confidence vote in parliament.

Two weeks after a tumultuous general election that delivered a hung parliament, the centre-right opposition parties voted with the far-right Sweden Democrats to depose Stefan Lofven.

The newly elected speaker of parliament, Andreas Norlen of the Moderates, will now consult with parliamentary parties over a new prime minister, however, those discussions are likely to be “tortuous” says CNN, given all major parties have pledged not to enter a formal coalition with the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats.

“The rise of the far right across Europe has forced many traditional parties into an uncomfortable choice of sharing power with populist forces or reaching out to long-standing opponents to keep them out”, says Reuters.

Sweden, long seen as a bastion of liberal values and political stability, now faces the same choice with its centre-left and centre-right blocs evenly balanced after this month’s election.

Ostracised by the political mainstream, the Sweden Democrats effectively hold the balance of power, and have threatened to block any new government unless they are given a say in shaping policy on key issues such as immigration, welfare and crime.

Norlen now has four attempts at proposing a new prime minister. If he fails to get enough support in parliament and the deadlock continues, Sweden would need to hold a new election within three months, “an eventuality most analysts think unlikely because the parties’ vote shares would probably not change by much”, says The Guardian.

The paper adds that with all potential cross-bloc coalitions or support deals “coming at a heavy political cost for those involved”, thrashing out an agreement is widely expected to take weeks or even months.

Ulf Bjereld, political scientist at Gothenburg University, told Reuters that “now the excitement will really start,” and “the parties will have to show their true colours now.”

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