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Swedish prime minister loses no confidence vote

June 21, 2021

Social Democrat party leader Stefan Lofven must now either step down or call a snap election. The vote came after the Left Party withdrew support over Lofven's plans to reform rent control.

Stefan Lofven, Swedish Prime Minister
Stefan Lofven, Swedish Prime Minister, is being forced to step downImage: Jessica Gow/TT/AP/picture alliance

Swedish center-left Prime Minister Stefan Lofven lost a no-confidence vote in Parliament Monday and is now set to be ousted after seven years in power. 

The vote passed with 181 of 349 lawmakers supporting the measure, making Lofven the first Swedish prime minister to lose a vote of no confidence. 

Lofven's imminent ouster throws Sweden into political turmoil, as he will either have to resign and have the speaker put together a new government, or call a snap election. 

Why did Lofven lose support?

The Social Democrats had been part of a coalition with the Green Party, and relied on the shaky support of other parties to maintain a fragile minority government. 

Lofven secured a second term in 2019 following months of negotiations after the 2018 elections resulted in a deadlock.

After Sweden's Left Party withdrew support from the Social Democrats, the right-wing Sweden Democrats seized the moment to call the vote of no confidence last Thursday.

Swedish election posters for the center left and far right in 2018
Sweden's far right made big gains in the 2018 electionImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Probst

Lofven's "red-green" coalition had been considered one of the weakest minority governments in Swedish history. 

The Left Party had removed its support for Lofven over plans to ease rent controls on new apartments.

Over the weekend, Lofven tried, and failed, to broker a deal to maintain the support of the Left Party. 

What happens next?

There is concern that a political crisis could continue in Sweden, even with a snap election. Opinion polls show the center-left Social Democrats and center-right Moderates enjoying roughly equal support.

"The government now has a week to decide and we will hold talks with our cooperation parties," Lovfen told a news conference after the vote. 

If the prime minister resigns, a caretaker government could take over until new elections in September 2022. It would be up to speaker Andreas Norlen to open negotiations among the parties to find a new prime minister.

It is unclear to whom the speaker might turn to form a new government should Lofven quit as parliament is deadlocked,

wmr, jc/rt (Reuters, AFP, dpa)