Sweden’s Political Crisis Ends With Anti-Immigration Party Sidelined

Sweden’s Political Crisis Ends With Anti-Immigration Party Sidelined
Swedish Prime Minister and Social Democratic Party leader Stefan Lofven answers questions after a press conference at the Swedish Parliament, Stockholm, Sweden, Dec. 27, 2014 (AP photo by Henrik Montgomery).

Sweden was plunged into political crisis last month when its prime minister, Stefan Lofven, initially called for new elections to be held in March after the populist Sweden Democrats joined with the center-right opposition coalition to vote down the ruling Social Democrat and Green Party government budget. The crisis came just two months after a general election that brought the Social Democrats back to power.

With the Social Democrat-Green coalition ruling as a minority, the Sweden Democrats found themselves in the powerful position of being the deciding vote in parliament. That allowed them to act on their hardline anti-immigration platform, insisting on a government budget that cut immigration by a startling 90 percent. When the ruling coalition’s proposed budget—to no surprise—did not meet that extreme demand, the Sweden Democrats voted for the opposition’s budget instead.

In late December, the snap election was called off when Lofven and his Social Democrats reached a deal with the five other centrist parties that will allow minority governments to rule with greater ease—and effectively shut the Sweden Democrats out of government. Under the so-called December Agreement, opposition parties will abstain from voting on a minority government’s budget. The Social Democrats will continue to rule in coalition with the Greens, but they are to cooperate with the four center-right opposition parties on defense, pensions and energy.

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