Sweden Democrats plan to create ‘political crisis’

Supporters of the Sweden Democrats celebrate in Stockholm after the Swedish general elections on September 14. Picture: Getty
Supporters of the Sweden Democrats celebrate in Stockholm after the Swedish general elections on September 14. Picture: Getty
Share this article
2
Have your say

THE far-right Sweden Democrat party has declared its intention to create a political crisis and bring down the country’s progressive Social-Democrat/Green coalition government by blocking their budget in a crucial vote this Wednesday.

The party, which holds the balance of power in the Swedish parliament and is part of UKIP’s EFDD group in Brussels, won an unprecedented 13 per cent of the vote in recent elections.

It has suggested it will vote for the opposition Conservative-Liberal budget and bring chaos to the government if its demands are not met.

The Swedish newspaper Expressen revealed on Monday a leaked email from the Sweden Democrats showing that they were planning for new elections if they should topple the government.

The party had begun cataloguing resources to see if it could fight a new election campaign, according to the newspaper.

CONNECT WITH THE SCOTSMAN

Subscribe to our daily newsletter (requires registration) and get the latest news, sport and business headlines delivered to your inbox every morning

• You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google +

In Sweden parliamentary groups traditionally present and vote for their own budget, meaning minority governments can rule effectively if the opposition is split.

By backing the Conservative-Liberal proposal the far right aim to destabilise a government they regard as dangerously radical in areas from immigration to climate action.

Top of their hit list is the Swedish Green Party.

Oskar Sjöstedt, economic spokesperson for the Sweden Democrats, told journalists in Stockholm “The Social Democrats would have an easier job getting their budget through without the Greens.”

Passing a budget would mean the far-right backing neither of the two blocs.

The Sweden Democrats disagree with the Greens on a range of key questions, including the country’s liberal asylum policy and their approach to culture and integration.

Since being elected in September, the Red-Green government has made headlines around the world for its recognition of Palestine and its huge investments in fighting climate change.

Such policies are not though popular with some Conservatives and the far right.

Swedish deputy Prime Minister and Green co-leader Åsa Romson remains bullish, saying at the weekend that “It is time we stopped lamenting the Sweden Democrats’ success in the elections and pull our socks up.”

Officially both parties in government remain tight-lipped about the possibility of a political crisis, but Social Democrat Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has accepted that there are alternatives.

The current deadlock is a “unique” situation according to Jenny Madenstam, a politics expert at Stockholm University

“This budget vote is a baptism of fire for Löfven,” she said.

Scotland controversy

Sweden was previously ruled by a Conservative-Liberal four-party coalition, but saw huge numbers of its votes shift to the Sweden Democrats.

Former Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, a close ally of David Cameron, then stepped down after eight years in power.

The formerly neo-Nazi Sweden Democrats were the centre of controversy in Scotland this summer when one of their MEPs spoke at a UKIP event in the run up to the independence referendum.

In the past it has been forced to institute a ban on wearing Nazi-style uniforms to party functions to improve its image and three senior party members were found to have carried out a drunken attack on a Swedish-Iranian comedian in Stockholm.

Its charismatic young leader Jimmie Åkesson is currently on long-term sick leave for exhaustion related to overwork and rumoured addiction.

Anders Wallner, a senior Green and architect of many of the policies the far-right object to said: “It is impossible to negotiate with the Sweden Democrats, who push the single question of how to stop refugees .”

Regarding the budget itself he added “We have some big problems to solve, and are open to negotiation on how we do that.”

Jonas Hinnfors, political science professor at the University of Gothenburg and a research fellow at Stirling University believes the most likely solution is a compromise between the left an liberal blocs.

“If the budget falls, you’ll see the left and liberal blocks working more closely.

“I can’t see the Sweden Democrats trying to bring down the government though as they want to be taken seriously, but this is another way for them to build their profile.”

“You could see UKIP having a similar role in Westminster if you had a Tory government that needed both Liberal and UKIP support for example, or a Labour government with UKIP as kingmakers.”

Although they do not have an official partnership, the far right tend to support Conservative proposals in parliament.

Sweden has a diverse parliament composed of eight political parties from far-right to radical left, making negotiations complex.

In recent years populist right parties have grown across Scandinavia on strong anti-immigration platforms.

The Norwegian Progress party are currently part of a governing coalition and a poll published this week by Danish newspaper Politiken put the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party on 21 per cent, making them the biggest in the country.

SCOTSMAN TABLET AND IPHONE APPS

• Download your free 30-day trial for our iPad, Android and Kindle apps

Keep up to date with all aspects of Scottish life with The Scotsman iPhone app, completely free to download and use