Formation of Swedish government following parliamentary election in September 2018

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Publication Date 2018-2019
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Reports and analyses of the lengthy process of government formation, following an inconclusive legislative election on 9 September 2018 from which none of the existing political blocs were able to acquire a parliamentary majority. The Swedish Constitution stipulates that the Parliament enjoys four attempts to pass a confidence vote on a cabinet, after which a new election would be mandatory.

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After electoral results became known, it was clear that neither of the political blocs intended to work with the Sweden Democrats (SD) - the party which came third in the poll - due to the content of many of its proposals and a past connected to white supremacist groups.

The incumbent cabinet - led by Stefan Löfven from the Social Democratic Party (SAP) - lost a motion of no-confidence in the Riksdag - the Swedish Parliament - on 25 September and was ousted. As a result, the Speaker tasked the leader of the conservative Moderate Party (MD) to negotiate an alternative government formula. On 14 October, the party leader Ulf Kristersson announced he was not able to find a solution. Mr Löfven was again tasked on 15 October to attempt the formation of a government but on 29 October he too announced his attempts had failed. The Parliament Speaker took over the task himself and, on 5 November, Mr Kristersson was formally nominated to lead a government, triggering a new confidence vote. The proposed government included the MD and the Christian Democrats with the parliamentary support of the SD, which was rejected by the left-wing political bloc and the centrist parties. The vote marked the first time a candidate for Prime Minister was rejected by the Riksdag since the abolition of the bicameral legislature in 1971.

On 15 November, the Speaker assigned Anne Lööf - leader of the centrist Centre Party - to attempt the development of an alternative government formula. Ms Lööf later brought her attempt to an end and criticised the two main parties for their unwillingness to compromise. The SAP leader Stefan Löfven was again tasked to form a government as a result, and a further vote of confidence was scheduled for 12 December. Despite initial indications that the centrist Centre Party and Liberal Party could allow the cabinet to be formed, it was later announced by Ms Lööf her party was not in a position to support the social democrats due to a lack of agreement on policy concessions.

However, it was announced on 11 January 2019 that the Social Democrats, the Greens, the Liberals and the Centre Party had reached an agreement on a new government for the country. This was possible due to reported policy concessions to the centrist parties. The proposed cabinet would feature the Social Democrats and the Greens only, with the Liberals and the Centre Party providing passive support in Parliament. On 16 January, the Left Party announced its members would abstain at the vote on Stefan Löfven's candidacy for prime minister, unlocking the months-long stalemate. The party vowed to fight against any policy measure pushing the country to the right, some of them included in the agreement between the Social Democrats and the centrist parties.

The parliamentary vote was held on 18 January and the proposed coalition cabinet - formed by the Social Democrats and the Greens - won the backing of 115 members of Paliament, while 77 abstained and 153 voted against it. Due to Sweden's negative parliamentarianism, a government can be endorsed so long a majority of the chamber does not vote against the proposed cabinet. Media sources highlighted that this would be the weakest government in Sweden yet in terms of electoral support.

Related Link(s)
Commentary and Analysis
Euro|topics, September 2018: Sweden unsettled after the election
Foreign Policy, 13.11.18: Swedish Leaders Will Try Anything to Shut Out the Far-Right
Politico, 03.12.18: In Sweden, all politics really is local
The Local (Sweden), 10.12.18: What's the next step in Sweden's government-forming process?
Wikipedia: 2018 Swedish government formation
Euro|topics, November 2018: Populists plunge Sweden into dilemma
openDemocracy: Can Europe Make It?, 12.01.19: The fateful issue in Sweden’s autumn election was nuclear weapons
Euro|topics, January 2019: New government in Sweden after long struggle
The Local (Sweden), 16.01.19: Stefan Löfven set to be Swedish PM again after Left Party gives go-ahead
Politico, 18.02.19: The man imposing ‘Order!’ Swedish-style

Politico, 15.10.18: Sweden’s Löfven takes turn at forming new government
Reuters, 23.11.18: Social Democrat gets second bite at forming Swedish government, but chances uncertain
The Local (Sweden), 04.12.18: The winners and losers in Swedish politics
Bloomberg, 07.12.18: Sweden’s Lofven in Final Government Push Ahead of Budget Vote
Politico, 10.12.18: Sweden’s Centre Party rejects Social Democrat leader as PM
The Local (Sweden), 10.12.18: Sweden faces budget vote as political uncertainty continues
The Irish Times, 10.12.18: Sweden stuck in political limbo as Centre party snubs Lofven
The Local (Sweden), 11.01.19: Swedish parties strike deal to end political deadlock
Bloomberg, 12.01.19: Sweden's Stalemate Nears End With Deal to Keep Nationalists Out
The Local (Sweden), 13.01.19: With Liberals on board, formation of new Swedish government lies in hands of Left
EurActiv, 14.01.19: Sweden’s Löfven edges toward second term after deal with centre-right
Politico, 16.01.19: Left Party clears way for Sweden’s Löfven to be PM
Deutsche Welle, 16.01.19: Sweden to end months without a government
Reuters, 18.01.19: Braving outrage, Swedish liberal Loof dumps partners to block populists
The Guardian, 18.01.19: Sweden gets new government four months after election
The Economist, 18.01.19: Sweden grudgingly gives Stefan Lofven another term as prime minister
Politico, 18.01.19: Sweden gets new government after weeks of coalition wrangling

European Council: Letter of congratulations from President Donald Tusk to Stefan Löfven on his approval as Prime Minister of Sweden
Swedish Parliament: News, 18.01.19: After the formation of government - the Speaker initiates analysis

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