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Cabinet crisis in Sweden

by A swedish kind of death Tue Dec 2nd, 2014 at 04:31:06 PM EST

Tomorrow the new red-green minority government is facing a defeat in parliament as the four-party former government and the racist party have all declared that they will vote for the former government's budget. Or will they...?


Background, Swedish budgets
Since the crisis in the early 1990s Sweden's annual budget has been passed as the whole budget with the most votes. The basic practise has been that each party writes their own motion on the budget, then everybody votes for their own and finally the government's budget faces of against the largest opposition party's budget. The rest of the parties vote blank and the government gets their budget passed in parliament. However, this August, the four parties of the government then ruling tied themselves to the mast by declaring that they would stand together and vote for their common budget even if they lost the election in September (which they did).

If the budget falls
If the budget falls, the cabinet resigns. They formally don't have to, but they have declared that they will. And then we either have snap elections (which we have not had for decades) or a new government is formed from the same parliament.

Multi-party chicken race
So, who wins and who loses if there are snap elections? The polls are essentially the same as the last election result, and we have no common wisdom regarding snap elections here. All sides have weaknesses.

The left has failed to form a government. The right still lacks a party leader for Moderaterna (the main center-right party) and thus a prime minister candidate, though Kinberg Batra is shaping up as the unopposed candidate. Even so, she is largely unknown outside Stockholm. The right also contains the Christian Democrats that hangs precarious on the 4% limit in both polls and election results.

The Sweden Democrats (the racist party) would be the natural winners, having sown more chaos, were not their party leader ill. He has been absent since the election and he is almost the only one they have who manages to do dogwhistling without going home and writing what he really feels on Facebook. Cracks are also showing as the extremely centralised party is going with a party leader on sick leave.

Looking at the economic side, three parties have deep pockets: Moderaterna, the Social Democrats and the Center party (another part of the former government coalition). The rest normally builds up their election chests from state contributions during the non-election years.

Somebody backing down?
As I write this the press is camping outside the meeting rooms where the party leaders of the government and the former government are negotiating. Who will chicken out?

Display:
By the way, I suspect that part of the decision to recognise Palestine was that this governmetn is in such a weak position that it has to find its victories in arenas where the cabinet makes the decisions, not the parliament.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Dec 2nd, 2014 at 04:41:55 PM EST
The party leaders are still in their meeting. Ah well, I am going to bed, whatever they decide will still be there in the morning.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Dec 2nd, 2014 at 04:54:40 PM EST
No reports this morning in English-language media, at least.

Though this says that no compromise with the opposition was reached:

Regeringen riskerar historiskt nederlag - DN.SE

Regeringen kan gå mot ett historiskt nederlag när riksdagen i dag, onsdag, ska rösta om statsbudgeten. Den borgerliga oppositionen gav i natt kalla handen till statsminister Stefan Löfvens försök att förhandla fram en lösning.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2014 at 02:22:12 AM EST
The debate is going on now, and the vote is scheduled for 4 pm.

With negotiations already failed, a quick resolution is of the table in case the budget is voted down. But still new elections feel far-fetched, we almost never have new elections (local new elections have been held when there has been voting irregularities that were enough to possibly change the result). Dusty tomes has to be taken out even to find when we are supposed to hold them.

With that in mind, new elections might mean lower participation rate, participation has been lower in local new elections. Then again, the results has tended to be about the same, so no major pattern there. And those were local, not national, so national (or Stockholm) media hardly cared.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Dec 3rd, 2014 at 03:35:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The dusty tomes have been brought forward. Apparently if new elections are held, they are to be held within three months, but new elections can't be called within three months from the start of a government. So new elections can earliest be called around Christmas and then has to be held within three weeks. So March.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Wed Dec 3rd, 2014 at 08:03:51 AM EST
You can do like Israel and have them on St. Patrick's day....
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2014 at 08:05:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is it a Sunday? It has to be a Sunday.

Or at least I think so, ordinary elections are always on Sundays.

Ah well, at least there will not be any government shut-down.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Dec 3rd, 2014 at 08:20:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, it's a Tuesday. Election day is always a public holiday in Israel, and having them on Saturday would not be a good idea (actually, I think it might be a very good idea, but too many people won't agree).

Some Irish group has already proposed the slogan "Vote early ... or you might not be able to find your way to the polls."

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2014 at 08:25:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Around Easter, you mean?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Dec 6th, 2014 at 04:43:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nobody backed down, parliament passed the budget of the former government.

Present government will not resign and try to re-form a government, instead new elections has been called for 22nd of March (or technically will be called late December).

Moderaterna has moved up their time schedule and will elect Kinberg Batra 10th of January.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Dec 3rd, 2014 at 02:58:13 PM EST
Times of Israel headline: First to recognize Palestine, Swedish government falls

Actually, over 100 countries had recognised Palestine before Sweden. The article is more precise, and says it is the first "major EU country" to recognise Palestine. So much for Hiungary, Czech republic, Slovakia, and a few others. Of course, some of their governments have probably fallen since as well.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2014 at 04:48:35 PM EST
Heh. Actually that did not feature at all. Immigration, taxes, education, what have you not, has been different reasons for the opposition to vote down the budget, but I have not heard Palestine mentioned.

More like: So weak it might fail, must get something done that the cabinet can do on its own. So recognise Palestine.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Dec 4th, 2014 at 03:58:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I realised that we have now changed system. Before yesterday we were a minority government parliamentarian system (with majority governments as the exception). But this will call for tit-for-tat, so if the left looses teh new election they will vote for their budget. And the Sweden democrats has declared that they will vote for opposing budget all the time until their demands are met.

So now it is not about getting the largest group, it is about getting a majority. With entrenched blocs and a big rascist-twits party that so far the others do not wnat to cooperate with. Interesting times.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Dec 4th, 2014 at 04:06:33 AM EST
And it's clearly the centre-right which has precipitated the regime change, no?

If new elections were to give the same numbers as the current parliament, presumably the centre-right would be invited to form a minority government, on the basis that they are the only ones able to pass a budget... with far-right support?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Dec 4th, 2014 at 07:06:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, it is the centre-right that did this. The left is not blameless, they nibbled on the edge of the structure last year when they broke out a tax reduction and stopped that with far-right support, but this is a big escalation.

If new elections return the same parliament it is up to the current speaker (soc-dem) to lead discussions and nominate a PM, or at least that is the case until a new speaker is elected. In September the speaker in the outgoing parliament (moderate, ie right-wing) demanded that Löfven showed that he had support to pass a budget, despite the former government voting collectively for theirs. In effect a deal with greens and left had to be shown before the speaker nominated him. The speaker's nomination is elected unless a majority votes against.

In tit-for-tat the outgoing speaker can demand the same thing of a centre-right government, and now the limit for being able to pass a budget has increased to majority, so centre-right + far-right. Or another new election. Or a break-up of the current bloc structure.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Dec 4th, 2014 at 07:23:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The point is that you cannot expect a government to govern on the opposition's budget. If the opposition has the votes to defeat the government's budget, they should form the government.

So the left government has done what they should: resign and put the whole mess to the voters. After the next elections, either

  1. the left government is returned with a sufficient majority to pass a new budget, in which case they should form a government; or
  2. the left allows the parties behind this budget to form a minority government. If the right happen to not have a majority to do anything else in parliament the whole of 2015, tough luck. At least they get to implement their own budget. And in next autumn's budget process the left can defeat the government's budget and so on.

We all know from the Belgian experience a few years ago that having no government or an inoperative government is the best you can do for growth and jobs in the current political environment anyway.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2014 at 09:24:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What's the Right's official justification for the insistence on their budget? And what's the unofficial information regarding the aims of the Right's strategy (what did they want to achieve)?

Grammar nitpick: "loose" means not fastened or bound (not tight); "racist" is written without an "s".

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Dec 6th, 2014 at 04:53:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Before the election, they promised the voters a joint budget. Also, it helps them hang together. During the run-up to the budget vote, the social democrats tried to negotiate with the center-right parties separately, rather than as a joint coalition. To many people this looked a lot less like trying to find a solution and more as effort to break up the Alliance (as the center-right coalition is called), thus securing permanent soc-dem power.

What did the right want? Well, I think they wanted to spite the left, make them look bad, and maintain their internal cohesion with the aim of winning the 2018 election. They had probably not expected the SD to block the soc-dem budget. And more importantly, I'm convinced that in that event, they thought the soc-dems would ask the Speaker to try to form a new government, which either would be a pure soc-dem government (ditch the greens) wich would be far more amendable to negotioations, or it would be an Alliance minority government. Sure, the SD could wreck that government as well, but probably not until next fall, when the Alliance could have called for snap elections themselves.

Now, instead, the soc-dems called for snap elections, which kinda panicked the Alliance. They are showing a brave face now though. What else could they do?

The snap elections can still be called off until December 29, but that is very unlikely unless the SD starts polling consistently above 20 percent, which is very unlikely. At least until next year.

Pretty much this entire exercise has been a classical example of mirror imaging, where the right and left have misunderstood each other
and the SD completely. The right just as they have been saying for months that they would. The soc-dems probably thought they were bluffing and would fold at the last instant. The right expected a reshuffled government if SD struck, but they instead got snap elections.

SD is the only people who seem to have had a robust game plan all along, and seem to have read their opponents correctly as well. Pretty much no matter what happens, they are likely to be winners.

This is really quite dramatic. Sweden has had snap elections three times before, in 1958, 1914 and 1877. With the exception of 1958, those were really decisive events in the history of our democracy. This is really big too.

And there are so many possibilities and so much uncertainty that no one can feel they have a good idea what will come out of it. Too many moving parts. Too many unknown unknowns. Certainly interesting times.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sun Dec 7th, 2014 at 01:26:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At least there was no secret collusion between SD and Alliance, I can assume. It was leaked now that in Thuringia, the CDU held secret talks with the AfD about foiling the election of Germany's first Left Party regional PM (which fortunately came to nothing). But there are voices for more cooperation or adoption of themes (Starvid).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Dec 7th, 2014 at 05:44:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As both sides are leaking now, it becomes very obvious that this is a case wrong assumptions about the other side. Also it appears that for a long time the Alliance thought SD would abstain (as they did during the previous session of parliament). When it came down to it, the Alliance thought the government would step down and renegotiate with them from a weakened position if the Alliance budget was passed, while the government thought the Alliance was bluffing and would in the end abstain enough votes for the governments budget to pass.

No secret collusion has come to light, and if there was the Alliance + SD could depose the current government before the 29th of December, which is the earliest date the government can formally call for new elections. No heavy weights inside the parties has begun any rethorical positioning for that though, everyone is full steam ahead for new elections while blaming the other side.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Dec 8th, 2014 at 04:32:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We certainly live in interesting times. The blame game has already begun, and on a massive scale.

What I don't understand is how prime minister Löfven allowed himself to be painted into this corner.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Dec 5th, 2014 at 12:25:43 AM EST
Is he a Social Democrat? That would explain how...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 7th, 2014 at 03:02:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One really must start to question what's going on here. Last night he commented on television that "the difference between nazism and fascism is that fascists respected democratic principles".

That's quite some news to me, as I'm sure it also is for our e.g. Spanish and Italian users.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Mon Dec 8th, 2014 at 03:17:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"the difference between nazism and fascism is that fascists respected democratic principles". --

One might be forgiven for suspecting that the respect for 'democratic principles' is more focused on areas where they enjoy an absolute majority in (poorly informed) public opinion. And I doubt that they are so supportive where opinion is against them.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Dec 8th, 2014 at 03:31:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Say what?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 8th, 2014 at 07:39:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Dec 9th, 2014 at 03:20:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the US South the things that unite 'populism' these days are racism, homophobia and gynophobia - in addition to xenophobia. Prior to WWI and during the '30s there was some more left-wing populism focused on economic oppression and trying to unite races, religions and genders. After WWI in the US all left wing populism was deliberately tied to World Wide
Communism, first by the Red Scare then by J Edgar. But you knew that.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Dec 9th, 2014 at 09:12:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 9th, 2014 at 04:21:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Continuing with:

"They say that they respect democracy, but they don't want a democracy where other people with other skin color and other religion is participating and says - like the Sweden democrats says - that the biggest threat since Adolf Hitler is moslems. Then they have gone very far, and then I should not be the one to answer what their opinions are, I think they should do so themselves."

Which makes them racist. The lesson to be learned is that when introducing new terms, make sure your party leader is up to speed about it.

In general I don't think it is wrong to call them neofacist, depending of course on the definition of fascism and neofascism. As an organisation they are in direct descendence from nazi and neonazi organisations in Sweden, they celebrate "the people" and point out which inhabitants do not belong to "the people". Yes, they claim to respect democracy, but that does not mean more then not actively planning to overthrow the government with violent means.

Also, calling them neofascist increases the cost to cooperate with them.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Dec 9th, 2014 at 10:06:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I think it's absurd. They certainly aren't either fascist or neofascists. Unless we have regressed to calling all the people we don't like fascists, like the Moscow-aligned communists did before WW2 (when social democrats were called "social fascists").

Mr Löfven is basing these views on a book written by a revisionist historian (without a degree), a Mr Arnstad, who has been massively criticised by real historians. His view is basically that anyone who is a nationalist is a fascist, because the fascists were nationalists. This makes most governments fascist I suppose. He has particularly focused on Norway, which is an especially fascist county as far as Mr Arnstad is concerned.

If this make it sound like the hapless prime minister of Sweden is basing his decision-making (or at least his rhetoric) on the scribblings of a modern day Swedish Rasputin, then well... I couldn't possibly comment on that.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue Dec 9th, 2014 at 11:38:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This eyebrow-raising comment by the prime minister, bolstered by comments from the finance minister and an op-ed by the prime minister in our paper of record, has of course ignited a debate on the issue: are the SD fascists or not?

On the one hand we have Mr Arnstad and his followers. On the other hand we have pretty much everyone else. So what do the experts say? Well... "Scientists agree - SD are not fascists."

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue Dec 9th, 2014 at 12:07:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As far as I have followed the debate, Arnstad uses Griffins definition of facism as palingenetic ultranationalism. It is debated but remains one of the main definitions of fascism. Lööw, one of the experts quoted, used it in her phd thesis.

I am glad that Dick Harrison, another of the experts, gives a definition of fascism. According to him they would be fascists if and only if they marched on Stockholm in uniforms to violently over-throw the government. And that is fine as historical definitions go, however it is pointless if you want to identify fascism before a revolution.

Sverigedemokraterna was founded by neo-nazis and actual 1940ies nazis and had nazi-uniforms every now and then until the current gang of four gained control - and they have total control over their party. Since then they have donned uniforms, let the hair grow out and cleaned out the official documents, in order to not look like fascists. Their militia is kept at arms lenght, and it can only rarely be proven that organised Sverigedemokrater is active in death threats against opponents.

Of course ever so often they slip up and if it becomes a big thing the gang of four kick them out temporarily.

So yes, I think we have enough to conclude that they are indeed fascists and I think that using their official documents instead of their behaviour is a mistake.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Dec 9th, 2014 at 03:47:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Our dear just wrote an article on democracy problems:

Tony Blair: For True Democracy, the Right to Vote Is Not Enough - NYTimes.com

Then there have grown up powerful interest groups that can stand in the way of substantial and necessary reform. Anyone who has ever tried to reform an education system, for example, knows how tough and bitter a struggle it is. The bureaucracy fights change. The teachers' unions fight change. The public gets whipped up to defeat change even when it is in the public's own interest. The nearest I came to losing my job as prime minister was not over policies of war and peace, but over education reforms. The effort to reform health care has similar characteristics.
Here is the meanest interest group, the teachers.
The public blowback against reform is intense and yet there really is no alternative [...]

Examine the changes in the private sector over the past 20 years. Look at the top companies by market capitalization and how new names have displaced the old.

Thatcher the demi-god for the responsible Labour!
at the very time when leadership is needed, the gene pool of political leaders has shrunk [...]

politicians are not really well paid by the standards of those who are successful in the private sector [...]

The answer to this democratic malaise may be partly a change in the relationship between governing and governed. People have to accept that governing involves difficult choices, and politicians ought to be respected for making them, not abused.

Say that! Ukraine musty feel great now about its gene pool in the government, and the choices people are accepting there. We are going a long way...
by das monde on Fri Dec 5th, 2014 at 01:10:59 AM EST


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