Sweden Budget Talks Fail, Early Elections Likely

Sweden’s conservative and liberal opposition parties rejected overtures from Social Democratic Party prime minister Stefan Löfven on Tuesday night to support his minority government’s budget, saying it would vote for its own budget proposal instead. That could leave Löfven with little choice but to resign and call snap elections only two months after taking office.

“We were clear on that we would vote ‘yes’ to the Alliance proposal and we have seen nothing to change that,” the Moderate Party’s Anna Kinberg Batra told reporters after meeting with members of the government.

The Moderates are the biggest of the four parties in the Alliance bloc that governed Sweden until September when Löfven’s Social Democrats won a plurality of the seats in parliament with 31 percent support.

Despite falling short of a majority, the Social Democrats formed a government with their Green Party allies. Read more “Sweden Budget Talks Fail, Early Elections Likely”

Swedish Nationalists Block Löfven’s Budget Bill

Sweden’s anti-immigration nationalists have said they will back the conservative opposition’s budget proposal over the government’s, putting Prime Minister Stefan Löfven’s political survival in doubt.

Earlier, Löfven had suggested he would resign if his minority government of Social Democrats and Green failed to win parliamentary support for its spending plan. Read more “Swedish Nationalists Block Löfven’s Budget Bill”

Swedish Nationalists Could Force Snap Elections

The nationalist Sweden Democrats are considering voting down a budget bill next month, which could force Prime Minister Stefan Löfven to call snap elections.

Svenska Dagbladet reported on Wednesday that the anti-immigration party, which got almost 13 percent support in September’s parliamentary election, becoming the third largest party, has yet to make a decision. But it says members are leaning toward rejecting the coalition’s spending plans.

Löfven, the Social Democratic Party leader, formed a minority government with the Greens after winning a plurality of the seats in September but not an absolute majority.

The conservative and liberal parties that backed former prime minister John Fredrik Reinfeldt’s government also fell short of a majority. Although they hold the balance of power, the Sweden Democrats are shunned by all other parties. Read more “Swedish Nationalists Could Force Snap Elections”

Submarine Hunt Underscores Nordics’ Russia Fears

Sweden’s search for what is believed to be a Russian submarine that entered its territorial waters last week underscores the whole Baltic region’s growing security concerns.

The search has triggered Sweden’s biggest military mobilization since the end of the Cold War and rekindled memories of the final years of the standoff between East and West when the neutral Scandinavian country’s navy repeatedly chased Soviet submarines along its coast.

Svenska Dagbladet reported that the hunt for what is assumed to be a submarine began after a radio transmission in Russian was picked up on an emergency frequency.

Russian defense officials told RT, the country’s international broadcaster, that if there was a submarine, it would more likely be Dutch.

A Royal Netherlands Navy submarine did take part in military exercises in the area with Sweden and other Nordic countries but then sailed for Estonia. The Dutch deny their submarine, HMS Bruinvis, is the target of the Swedish search. Read more “Submarine Hunt Underscores Nordics’ Russia Fears”

Sweden’s Left Hopes to Lure Centrists Into Coalition

Sweden’s Social Democratic Party leader, Stefan Löfven, has reached out to smaller centrist parties after failing to win an outright majority for his coalition in the election.

“The hand is there outstretched,” Löfven, a former trade unionist, told reporters.

Now we are going to start talks with the Green Party and then continue with the Left Party and then we will make contact also with the Center Party and the Liberal Party.

Read more “Sweden’s Left Hopes to Lure Centrists Into Coalition”

Swedish Left Ahead in Polls But Without Majority

Swedes looked certain to return a leftist majority to parliament on Sunday but the Social Democrats, ahead of the ruling liberal party in the polls, could struggle to form a government.

Surveys put the Social Democrats at around 30 percent, close to the support they got in the last election. But Prime Minister John Fredrik Reinfeldt’s Moderates are down to around 22 percent, likely giving opposition leader Stefan Löfven a mandate to form the next government.

Löfven’s Green Party allies, however, are unlikely to win enough seats to give the two parties a majority, necessitating a coalition with either the formerly communist Left Party or centrist parties that are now in Reinfeldt’s alliance.

The Sweden Democrats are expected to win more than one in ten votes but the other major parties refuse to work with what they consider to be a far-right movement. Read more “Swedish Left Ahead in Polls But Without Majority”

Swedes Ought to Reelect Reinfeldt

John Fredrik Reinfeldt’s government in Sweden looks certain to lose an election on Sunday. That is unfortunate. His government, in office since 2006, has done much to transform the Nordic country.

Once hamstrung by outdated economic and social policies, Sweden is now among the most competitive and dynamic countries in Europe — due in no small part to Reinfeldt’s program. Read more “Swedes Ought to Reelect Reinfeldt”

Swedes Reject Centralization, Sympathetic to Cameron

Sweden’s prime minister John Fredrik Reinfeldt rejects the notion of closer economic and fiscal integration in Europe, a goal set out by German chancellor Angela Merkel in Davos, Switzerland earlier last week.

“The idea that we give new powers to Brussels and the European Commission then tells us what we can and cannot do, we categorically reject,” the Swedish leader, who belongs to the same conservative political family as Merkel, said in an interview with the German Handelsblatt that was published on Sunday. Read more “Swedes Reject Centralization, Sympathetic to Cameron”

Britain, Sweden Opt Out Centralized Banking Oversight

European finance ministers agreed early Thursday morning to empower the European Central Bank to supervise the bloc’s largest banks, a deal that is expected to be ratified by European leaders on Friday. Britain, the Czech Republic and Sweden opted out of the arrangement.

Under the agreement, the ECB will monitor banks with assets that are worth more than €30 billion or the equivalent of 20 percent of their state’s gross domestic product, excluding small and regional banks that aren’t heavily exposed to sovereign debt. Some two hundred out of the roughly 6,000banks in the eurozone would fall under the new regime. Read more “Britain, Sweden Opt Out Centralized Banking Oversight”

Ahead of Key Euro Summit, Germany Losing Allies

Ahead of a European Council summit on Thursday where leaders are scheduled to discuss plans for deeper economic integration, Chancellor Angela Merkel is losing support from countries that are typically considered German allies.

Although Northern European politicians are cautious not to stray too far from the German line, there is mounting concern in the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Sweden that Merkel will succumb to French, Italian and Spanish pressure. Read more “Ahead of Key Euro Summit, Germany Losing Allies”