Sweden Strikes Deal to Avoid Vote Expected to Strengthen Far Right
By STEVEN ERLANGER DEC. 27, 2014
LONDON — Sweden’s mainstream political parties announced a deal on Saturday to preserve a minority center-left government, adopting the center-right’s budget for next year and thus avoiding early elections that looked to strengthen the far right.
The bargain, announced by Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, cancels the early elections he had announced for March, which would have been the first snap elections in Sweden since 1958.
The deal preserves the Lofven government, only three months old, which lost a key parliamentary vote when the anti-immigration Sweden Democrat party joined the center-right in refusing to support the government’s budget.
The Sweden Democrats became the third-largest party in the elections in September, winning 12.9 percent of the vote and riding a wave of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim feeling that has touched most of Europe’s traditionally liberal societies.
The importance of Saturday’s deal is to isolate the Sweden Democrats, who had said that they would use the proposed March elections as a referendum on immigration. …
The Sweden Democrats, who were gaining further support in opinion polls, condemned the deal as anti-democratic and said that they would seek an opportunity to force a no-confidence vote in the government, but expectations were that the other parties would support Mr. Lofven in such a vote. …
The arrangement is complicated, but it means that Mr. Lofven abandons his own government’s budget and follows the center-right’s budget, though he can make some changes in the spring. After that, the center-right parties, which form the Alliance bloc, pledged to abstain from voting against the government’s budgets in a deal that is supposed to last until 2022. The main parties also agreed to coordinate policy on pensions, defense and energy issues.