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Midsummer crisis in Sweden

by fjallstrom Fri Jun 25th, 2021 at 12:54:26 PM EST

Monday the Swedish parliament vote against the current PM, starting a political crisis the end of which is still not clear.

The vote was a straight up vote of confidence. If a majority of parliament rejects the PM, the government falls. Sweden is right now in caretaker government, led by the same PM. The PM has until Monday to either call a new election (which would mean a special election this fall, and a regular election next fall) or the speaker will get three attempts at presenting an acceptable PM.

Frontpaged with minor edits - Bernard

The issue at hand was de-regulation of rents in newly constructed apartment buildings. Sweden has since January 2019 been ruled by a Social Democratic and Green cabinet with an agreement with the two liberal parties - Liberals and Center - and passive acceptance of the Left party, with whom the liberal parties refuse to deal with on the national level. The neoliberal wing of the Center party really wants de-regulation of rents, so getting it into the agreement was a win for them. The Left party has been clear they would do their utmost to defeat de-regulation of rents. The national tenants association has been campaigning for some time now against de-regulation of rents.

So last week things came to a head as the Left declared an ultimatum whereby the government had to stop the process leading to de-regulation of rents in newly constructed apartment buildings or they would vote with the two conservative parties and the far right in toppling the government. Skipping ahead, that happened Monday. Wednesday, the Center declared they will give up on de-regulation of rents as there is no parliament majority for it (this is partially a fake-out as the conservatives are not against de-regulation of rents, they just seized the opportunity to topple the cabinet, and partially a way to blame the conservatives while dropping the issue), of course the Center party expects political compensations.

However, when the January agreement was enacted in 2019 both liberal parties agreed that the far-right had to be kept from power and thus they couldn't form a right-wing coalition government with the conservative parties as it would be dependent on the far right. This is still true for the Center party, which is doing well in the polls, while the Liberals that is polling around 2,5% has essentially thrown their liberal ideals out if it relates to migrants and decided that they now support a right wing government, even if dependent on the far right.

Center, Green, Social Democrats and the Left party would still have a majority of one. But last piece of news I picked up the Center party wants the Liberals to re-join the agreement if they are to take part. And there we are.

Now it is midsummer weekend, which is the start of summer. Today is work free for most, people are going to the country side, and those for whom vacation doesn't start next week are still getting into the summer mode. I don't know how that will affect things, but I don't expect anything to happen until Monday.

I don't think anyone really wants a new election, it messes up plans and even if you win the regular election is in 2022. The process is more driven by its internal logic.
by fjallstrom on Fri Jun 25th, 2021 at 12:54:39 PM EST
I'm surprised that an election this autumn would only hold until 2022. In Ireland/UK any general election results in a parliament with a lifespan of 5 years unless a government loses confidence in the meantime.

The centre party seem to have miscalculated on the level of support for rent de-regulation. Will they pay a political price for that?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 25th, 2021 at 06:56:24 PM EST
I don't know why we have that rule, but it seems to go way back. Only new elections I can find are when voting rights has gone through a large extentions in the beginning of the 20th century. As constitutional reforms needs to be voted on in parliament before and after a eleciton, parliament has after voting through the new voting rights dissolved itself and a new one has been elected with the new electorate to serve the rest of the term.

Ancient traditions, I guess?

I don't think the centre party will pay a political price. They are indespensible to forming a government, so they won't pay a price in parliament. And I doubt they will in the election either. They are an amalgam of the farmers party in the country side and young neoliberals in big cities. In the country side deregulation of rents isn't a big issue, because with ongoing urbanisation to the major cities, small towns tend to have low rents and a problem with getting tenants. So their voters there aren't supportive of the issue, but I doubt it is a dela breaker either. And the young neoliberals are obviously convinced that deregulation is the solution to all woes.

With the Liberal party polling to low to attract support votes and the Christian Democrats and Greens balancing on the 4% limit to stay in parliament, the Center party might very well mop up one or more parties in the centre, especially if there are two elections in a row. The Center party, the Moderates (that are conservative) and the Social Democrats are the three well-funded parties that should theoretically gain from exhausting opponents election funds. But that is theoretical, cause we never have new elections, so we don't know how the electorate would react.

Or actually we have new elections. But only when vote counters mess up. The votes are counted twice (election night and then automatic re-count) and if differences emerge between the counts that would move seats, the election is re-done. And then fewer vote, but generally it is about the same result. But then no party can be blamed for the inconvenience, so I don't think it tells anything.

by fjallstrom on Sat Jun 26th, 2021 at 01:20:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
all across the world rents are becoming an issue. It's becoming a fault line between left and right that possibly was never expected. It's gonna be the number one issue going forward

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jun 25th, 2021 at 10:23:49 PM EST
by Oui (Oui) on Sat Jun 26th, 2021 at 09:23:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Houses are for living, not for speculation. (Chinese proverb - 2021)

Easing of loans for businesses in China has been used to buy property. The CPC has announced it will crack down on this illegal abuse of Covid-19 funds.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sat Jun 26th, 2021 at 01:09:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As the real economy stagnates, and the speculative economy blows bubbbles, catching rents in various forms is increasingly what is left. Saw recently that the Biden bipartisan economic plan contains "asset recycling", ie hand over everything to Wall Street and let them collcet the rents, because markets. But housing rents are the original rents.

In Sweden at least, the corporate think tank Timbro has been doing long term work in training young politicians of different stripes in neoliberal ortodoxy and grievance politics. If you are young and can't get a job (or the job you deserve) who is at fault? Obviously it is old people who has seniority and crap, get them out and you can get a job! If you are young and can't get an apartment, who is at fault? Obviously it is old people who has rent control and crap, get them out and you can get an apartment!

Naturally, the economic rules that keep unemployment in place, make sure that all expansion of teh economy goes to the big cities with predictable lack of appartments etc etc, can not be questioned. What are you, some kind of socialist?! Do you want people to die in the Gulag?!

by fjallstrom on Sat Jun 26th, 2021 at 01:33:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It sounds like 'dying in the gulag' is what a lot of people will be doing under this arrangement. It will just be that the gulag is a bit different than they expected.

The ONE bright spot in the USA is that the younger the generation the more progressive it becomes. In the '60s I always thought 'don't trust anyone over thirty' was stupid. Those idiots were giving themselves ten years or less of relevance - if only people remembered. But in the current day USA there is a similar dynamic, with the GenX and younger generations rightly criticizing the Boomer generation for getting theirs and then voting to have the ladder pulled up. But the effects are opposite in tendency
to those in Sweden.

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jun 26th, 2021 at 03:50:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I don't think the young neoliberals are many, Timbro has just done well in selecting for those likely to make a political career and catching them young. Opposite of mass movement, if you like.
by fjallstrom on Sat Jun 26th, 2021 at 11:53:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I hope so, and I hope that their craven greed is exposed for what it is.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jun 27th, 2021 at 03:39:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Today the PM has officially handed in his resignation and the speaker will lead rounds to try to find an acceptable PM. The alternative was for the PM to call extra elections within three months.

The rules are the same as after an ordinary election. The speaker suggests PM candidates to parliament. If less then a majority votes against, he or she is elected. So it could be one vote for, 174 votes against and 174 abstaining and we would have a new PM.

In practical terms it is Ulf Kristersson from the Moderates that is the opposition candidate, and current PM Löfven from the Social Democrats, that are the two candidates. With the Liberals shifting over to right-wing with support of far right, and if the parties line up and whip all MPs, and the two independents (one former liberla, one former left) vote as expected, then it should end up as 174 for Kristersson and 175 against, while if Löfven can finalise negotiations with the Center party without the Liberals he should get 175 for and 174 against.

If parliament votes down four candidates in a row, there are automatic new elections. The cabinet stays on as caretaker government until a new one is formed.

by fjallstrom on Mon Jun 28th, 2021 at 10:16:37 AM EST
One small item in the American system that seems to work fairly well is the requirement that the president get an absolute majority in the electoral college. That has pretty much squelched third parties, which some argue is bad. But it has also allowed us to maintain a 4 year regular term length even in some pretty chaotic situations, which seems to be good on the balance.
by asdf on Mon Jun 28th, 2021 at 01:45:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the US, wouldn't a more similar situation to the current situation where the executive isn't having enough support in the legislative, be a politically motivated impeachment? Whereas here the parliament can simply vote out the executive. Of course, that comes down to the issue of parliamentarism.

In general, I think the negative majority works pretty well in the system, in particular in combination with the budget with the most votes is passed, preventing budget stand-offs. The main problem now is the combination of a fractured political landscape and the liberal parties refusal to negotiate with the Left party.

On the local and regional level there is much less problems in forming coalitions despite results that were often similar to the national.

by fjallstrom on Mon Jun 28th, 2021 at 05:19:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is quite difficult to impeach and convict the US president. You need to get 2/3 of the senate to go along, and it is pretty unlikely that you would get 2/3 of senators in party A at the same time as a president in party B.
by asdf on Tue Jun 29th, 2021 at 09:48:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the US what tends to happen when the Presidency and the Congressional majority are controlled by different parties is legislative gridlock - especially when Republican's control Congress. Obama wasn't allowed do anything after the Affordable Care act as he lost Congress after his first two years. Democrats tend to be more amenable to compromise or selling out depending on your point of view.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jun 28th, 2021 at 06:31:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In truth I believe that Obama was RELIEVED to have lost control of Congress. Had he been concerned he could have taken his vaunted campaign machine out of moth balls for the midterms.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jun 29th, 2021 at 03:41:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A couple of days with noise and speculation has passed.

Among other things a focus has been on the sole Center MP from Västerbotten who voted against Löfven as PM in 2019 (when it didn't matter that she voted against). Moderate MP and twitter profile Hanif Bali has offered to fund raise for her if she comes over to the right wing and hinted at 2 million SKR (approximately 200 000 euros or dollars), Bali has been reported to the police for attempted bribery and withdrawn the offer from twitter. The Center MP has declared that she will vote with her party.

Also the minister of agriculture has resigned, and as she is an elected MP she has now reclaimed her MP seat from her substitute MP. Apparently the substitute is ill and could have been absent in a vote.

Today Kristersson has without a vote declined the mission to form a government, handing it back to the speaker to find another PM, which in effect will be Löfven. To me that feels like the beginning of the end of the crisis. Remaining is getting an agreement between the Social Democratic and Green government and  the Center party, that takes into account the red lines of the Left party. Then Löfven will return as PM instead of care taker PM.

by fjallstrom on Thu Jul 1st, 2021 at 11:36:18 AM EST
Today Löfven was elected as PM with 116 (Social Democrats and Greens) for and 173 against. Center and Left parties abstaining (which in practical terms doesn't matter as anything less then 175 against means electing a PM).
by fjallstrom on Wed Jul 7th, 2021 at 01:02:58 PM EST
A weird system you have there! In any other system a 116 to 173 vote counts as a loss! Still I suppose it allows some parties to maintain their distance while tacitly enabling the government. Do voters not see through this?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jul 7th, 2021 at 01:10:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A PM has to be acceptable to the parliament, and he is unless a majority opposes. We had a government - the Ullsten cabinet in 1979 - that had just 39 votes in favor and 66 opposed (215 abstaining).

Of course it is the fact that he would be elected even if they abstain that allows them to abstain. It is also the mutual anti-pathy between the Center and the Left that by and large makes it necessary for them both to abstain.

By now, lots of people have gone on vacation, so though this is the main news, I don't know how many actually pays any attention. In that way, one can see the abstianing votes as a way to keep their own options regarding narrative open.

What hasn't really been settled is the politics. The issue of market rents is dead, but a lot of issues remains. And there is a budget to pass in the fall and lots of disagreements. So we might have a new political crisis around Christmas.

by fjallstrom on Wed Jul 7th, 2021 at 01:56:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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