Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven has said early elections will be held in March after he failed to win the support of opposition parties for his spending plans.
Just two months into office, Löfven’s coalition with the Greens collapsed when the nationalist Sweden Democrats announced their intention to support the center-right Alliance’s budget proposal.
The Sweden Democrats won 13 percent support in September’s election and have since held the balance of power in parliament.
Löfven, the Social Democratic Party leader, made a last-ditch attempt on Tuesday to convince the Alliance to support him, but they refused.
Löfven was elected on a promise to reverse many of the economic and social policies enacted by the previous, right-wing government.
Had Löfven not stepped down and called elections, he would have been obligated to carry out the right’s spending plan instead of his own.
He blamed the Alliance for giving the nationalist a veto: “They are allowing the Sweden Democrats to dictate the terms of Swedish politics.”
The Sweden Democrats said they opposed the government’s budget because it raises taxes on the elderly while doing nothing to curtail what they call an “extreme immigration policy.”
Sweden takes in more asylum seekers per capita than any other country in the European Union.
Despite welfare cuts made by the last Alliance government, its social provision for immigrants are still generous by international standards.
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 only winners. They doubled their support to become the third-largest party.