New Swedish government faces crisis over budget

AP News
Posted: Dec 02, 2014 5:54 PM
New Swedish government faces crisis over budget

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Sweden's left-leaning minority government was balancing on the verge of collapse Tuesday after a far-right party said it would side with the opposition to vote against its budget proposal.

The Sweden Democrats, which made strong gains in the September election, said it would attempt to force the government to resign by siding with the center-right opposition in the budget vote scheduled on Wednesday.

Social Democrat Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said he would announce a decision on how to proceed after the debate in Parliament. His options appeared limited after a last-ditch effort to negotiate with the four parties in the center-right opposition failed to produce any results.

Lofven could withdraw the budget proposal for further consideration, which would postpone the Wednesday vote, resign or wait until Dec. 29 to call for a new election.

The 57-year-old came to power after the Sept. 14 elections as the head of a coalition with the Greens, promising to reverse many reforms by the previous center-right government.

The Sweden Democrats, which has right-wing extremist roots, stands alone in Swedish politics in criticizing the country's liberal immigration laws. Despite efforts to soften its image, all other parties have refused to collaborate with the group.

Lofven said the party "acted in an exceptionally irresponsible manner" by rebelling against the budget, adding it simply "aims to knock out any government that doesn't dance to their tune."

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Sweden Democrats spokesman Mattias Karlsson said Sweden for long has had an "extreme immigration policy."

"That is what worries us Sweden Democrats the most," he told reporters.

In 2012, around 20 percent of Sweden's 10 million inhabitants had foreign roots, including people from western countries, according to official figures. In recent years, immigrants have come mainly from Iraq, Poland and Afghanistan.

The Sweden Democrat's rejection of the budget was seen as a political breakthrough for the party, the country's third-largest party in the 349-seat Parliament.