Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven tendered his resignation on Monday (18), a week after being beaten by a motion of censure. He ruled out calling early elections and the parties will have to agree to form a new government.
“One year away from regular elections, given the exceptional situation the country finds itself in, with a pandemic and the challenges it would present, early elections are not the best thing for Sweden,” Löfven said during of a press conference.
Löfven, 63, is a former welder and union leader. He brought the Swedish left back to power in 2014 and managed to stay in power by bringing his center-right party closer in the 2018 elections. This move resulted in the loss of support for the Left Party.
The prime minister, however, said he was ready to resume his duties, if there was an agreement between the parties to do so. He remains in power, on an interim basis, until there is an agreement for a new government. The process could take a long time, as Parliament Speaker Andreas Norlen has to consult each party before proposing a new head of government.
To be chosen, a House leader needs the support of 175 lawmakers. The current composition of Parliament does not, however, make it easy to achieve a majority. If the target is not achieved, the possibility of holding early elections will have to be reconsidered. It would be the first time this has happened in the country since 1958.
According to a recent poll by the Ipsos institute, the right and the ultra-right would obtain a slight parliamentary majority in a general election.
The no-confidence motion against him was brought by far-right Democrats in Sweden after the Left Party announced it might introduce a similar measure, protesting a proposal to cut rent controls. Under the plan, landlords could freely set the price of tuition fees, which the left sees as a threat to tenants’ rights.
The Moderate Conservative Party and the Christian Democrats supported the motion, which passed by 181 votes out of a total of 349. It was the first time that a Swedish prime minister has lost such a vote.
At the start of the pandemic, Sweden made the news because the government avoided more restrictive measures, such as roadblocks and compulsory use of masks, while most countries in the world adopted measures like these to contain the spread of the virus. The initial response to Covid-19 was guided more by voluntary measures and recommendations to the population.
However, there was a change in posture at the end of 2020, after a sharp increase in the number of cases, and the country respected social distancing measures, such as closing stores and banning the sale of alcoholic drinks at night. . Since the start of the crisis, the country has recorded 1.09 million people infected and 14,000 deaths from the disease, out of a population of 10.2 million.