The Social Democrat leader defeated after almost seven years in power by a plan to facilitate rental controls of newly built apartments.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has lost a vote of confidence, giving the Social Democratic leader a week to resign and give the president the job of finding a new government or calling a quick election.
Sweden’s nationalist Democrats had seized the opportunity to convene Monday’s vote in Parliament after the left-wing party withdrew support for the center-left government over a plan to facilitate rental controls on newly built apartments.
Sweden is in the midst of a real estate crisis and real estate prices are soaring in the country.
Lofven, 63, has been prime minister since 2014 and is the first Swedish prime minister to lose a no-confidence motion.
Sweden’s Democratic leader Jimmie Akesson told Parliament the government was harmful and historically weak and added: “It should never have come to power.”
The motion, which required 175 votes in parliament for 349 seats, was backed by 181 lawmakers.
Left party levels blame Lofven
Lofven’s unstable minority coalition with the Green Party has relied on the support of two small center-right parties and the Left Party since the tight elections in 2018.
The left-wing party blamed Lofven for the crisis.
“It is not the left-wing party that has given up the Social Democratic government, it is the Social-Democratic government that has abandoned the left-wing party and the Swedish people,” left-wing party leader Nooshi Dadgostar said.
With Parliament blocked, it is unclear who the president could address to form a new government if Lofven resigns.
Opinion polls suggest that the center-left and center-right blocs are balanced, so a quick election may not bring clarity either.
Dadgostar said that while his party had voted against Lofven, it would never help “a right-wing nationalist government” take power.
A new government or interim administration would run only until the parliamentary elections, scheduled for September next year.
Housing market problems
At the heart of the controversy are plans to deregulate Sweden’s real estate market because prices accelerated in the pandemic.
Sweden has strict regulations on rents designed to keep prices affordable in larger cities. However, this discourages real estate developers from building new homes for the rental market.
People may find themselves waiting for years to get a lease, while buying property is getting harder as prices go up.
The left-wing party fears that deregulation of the rental market will lead to a rapid rise in prices and deeper segregation between rich and poor.
Over the weekend, Lofven held last-minute meetings seeking to get a parliamentary majority for his proposed rental reforms.
On Sunday, he tried to soften reforms by inviting landlords and tenant organizations to talks.
However, Dadgostar defended the left-wing party’s decision to oppose Lofven and said his effort was “a political spectacle”.
“We did something that is perceived as unusual in politics … it kept our word,” he said.