- Title: SWEDEN-GOVERNMENT/BUDGET VOTE Swedish PM calls for snap elections
- Date: 3rd December 2014
- Summary: STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN (FILE - SEPTEMBER 14, 2014) (REUTERS) ****WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** SWEDISH OPPOSITION LEADER AND LEADER OF THE SOCIAL DEMOCRAT PARTY, STEFAN LOFVEN, LEAVING VOTING BOOTH DURING GENERAL ELECTION LOFVEN REGISTERING HIS VOTE, POLLING STATION OFFICIAL CASTING LOFVEN'S VOTE LOFVEN ON STAGE AT ELECTION PARTY (SOUNDBITE)(Swedish) SOCIAL DEMOCRAT PARTY LEADER, STEFAN LOFVEN, ADDRESSING CROWD SAYING: "Tonight Sweden has answered that now we need a change, now we need a new path and my most important message today is the following: I'm prepared to start to look into the possibilities to form a new government for Sweden." PEOPLE CHEERING
- Embargoed: 18th December 2014 12:00
- Location: Sweden
- Country: Sweden
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVA5V668QTN79MSKZ9KH46X62VI4
- Story Text: Sweden's prime minister Stefan Lofven called a snap election for March on Wednesday (December 3), the Nordic country's first in more than half a century, after parliament rejected his centre-left minority government's first budget.
Lofven's coalition of Social Democrats and Greens, widely viewed as the weakest administration in decades, had been seen at risk of a defeat on the budget if the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats voted with the main opposition. Shunned by mainstream parties, the Sweden Democrats have held the balance of power in parliament since September's general election.
At a news conference on Wednesday, Lofven said Sweden was now in "a serious situation, a difficult situation."
"The government will, on December 29, decide to give notice of a snap election. We do this with the support of the parliament act's third chapter, 11th paragraph and this is to allow the voters to make a choice in this new political landscape, because it's important to say that it's not like before, this is something new and then the voters have to be allowed to take a stand. The election will be held on March 22 next year," he said.
The far-right party has threatened to make Sweden effectively ungovernable unless the country imposes the kind of tough immigration policies adopted by neighbour Denmark. It wants Sweden to cut asylum seeker numbers by 90 per cent.
Lofven blamed the four centre-right parties of the previous Alliance government for giving the Sweden Democrats an effective veto in Swedish politics.
The crisis has shaken the image of a country often held up as a paragon of political and fiscal stability in contrast to crisis-hit Europe. But Sweden's low government debt and relatively robust growth are still likely to trump political uncertainty in the short term at least.
Analysts have warned a new vote would not necessarily produce a stable majority government of either centre-left or centre-right in light of the Sweden Democrats' hard-ball tactics.
September's poll reflected a split electorate, worried the cherished welfare state is failing after eight years of tax cuts under the previous centre-right government but also unconvinced by the Social Democrats' tax and spend promises.
The election's only winners were the Sweden Democrats, who doubled their vote to become the third largest party, echoing successes for the far right across Europe in recent elections.
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