Sweden PM loses confidence vote
With the results of the last election showing none of the parties had received a clear majority, it was anyone's guess how long a cobbled up government would last. The Far Right, with its neo-Nazi roots, had made a significant impact in several parts of Europe. Now it has been the turn of a welfare State like Sweden. The centre-left Prime Minister was toppled after losing a confidence vote in Parliament, forcing the country into a period of further political turmoil. The centre-right opposition parties voted with the far-right Sweden Democrats to depose Stefan Löfven, two weeks after a tumultuous general election that delivered a hung parliament. The newly elected speaker of parliament, Andreas Norlén of the Moderates, will now consult with parliamentary parties over a new prime minister. Those discussions are likely to be tortuous, as the Democrats have pledged not to enter a formal coalition with the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats. The speaker's eventual choice for prime minister must be put to a vote. If no more than half of the politicians, at least 175 members, vote against the speaker's nominee, the appointment would go through. Norlén has four attempts at proposing a new prime minister. If he fails to get enough support in parliament and the deadlock continues, Sweden would need to hold a new election within three months. Löfven, who has served as prime minister since 2014,will lead a transitional government until further notice, the speaker's office announced. Speaking after the vote, Löfven said: "I'm still Sweden's prime minister. I am prime minister in a transitional government." When asked if he thought he could be named as the next prime minister, he said "I see good opportunities for that, yes. ... I am at the disposal of the speaker. I want to continue serving our country." Löfven's party, the Social Democrats, came first in the September 9 election but won just 28.4 per cent of the votes, its worst showing in more than a century. Its centre-left coalition won 40.7 per cent of the vote, just a hair's breadth ahead of the opposition center-right bloc, which gained 40.3 per cent. Meanwhile, the Sweden Democrats made significant gains with 17.6 per cent of the vote, upending the political landscape. Amid the political stalemate, Löfven told Swedes he would stay in office. Even as political heat increases, the anti-immigration, Far Right, will have the proverbial last laugh. For Sweden, the days of peace and stability are clearly part of the past. That, for the average Swede, is sad. But with the Far Right improving its tally at every election, the writing was clearly on the wall. The fact that there are friction ridden zones from where those running for shelter is a hard reality. That the Swedes had followed the German example of letting them in did not go down well with many. So this phase of uncertainty comes as no surprise.