Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven said on Wednesday he would call early elections in March after failing to win the support of opposition parties for his budget.
Just two months into office, Löfven’s coalition of Social Democrats and Greens collapsed when the nationalist Sweden Democrats announced their intention to support the mainstream conservative and liberal Alliance’s budget proposal.
After winning 13 percent support in September’s election, the Sweden Democrats hold the balance of power in parliament.
Löfven made a last-ditch effort on Tuesday night to convince the Alliance to back him after all. They refused. Löfven is committed to reversing many of the economic and social policy changes they made in government.
Had Löfven not stood down and called snap elections, he would have been obligated to carry out the right’s spending plans rather than his own.
He blamed the Alliance for giving the nationalist an effective veto. “They are allowing the Sweden Democrats to dictate the terms of Swedish politics,” he said.
The Sweden Democrats said they opposed the government’s budget because it raised taxes on the elderly while doing nothing to curtail what they describe as an “extreme immigration policy.”
Sweden takes in more asylum seekers per capita than any country in the European Union. Despite welfare reforms enacted under the last Alliance government, it also maintains relatively generous social provision for immigrants.
The last election, in September, gave neither the left nor the right a majority. The Social Democrats defeated the Moderate Party, the largest in the Alliance, reflecting voters’ concern that the Swedish welfare state was failing after eight years of tax cuts and liberalizations. But many were also skeptical of the Social Democrats’ tax and spend promises.
The Sweden Democrats were the election’s only clear winners. They doubled their support to become the third-largest party. However, all other parties ruled out collaborating with them because of their anti-immigration views.