Sweden’s Left Party gives government 48 hours to scrap market rent bid or face no-confidence threat

Sweden’s Left Party has given the government a 48-hour deadline to throw out its proposal to abolish a hotly-debated rent cap on newbuilds – or it will try to organise a vote of no-confidence.

Sweden's Left Party gives government 48 hours to scrap market rent bid or face no-confidence threat
Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar told a press conference on Tuesday morning that her party’s attempts to discuss the controversial proposal with Social Democrat Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and the Centre Party had been repeatedly rejected.

She said the Left Party would not back the proposal, which would see market rents introduced for newly built apartments in Sweden. “Our support is not there if the government goes through with proposals on market rents or free rent-setting,” said Dadgostar.

Sweden’s housing market is currently strictly regulated, with municipal and state-regulated rental companies prevented from charging tenants above a certain price level. The proposal to scrap rent caps on newbuilds is part of the so-called January Agreement, in which the Social Democrat-Green government agreed to go forward with some of the Centre and Liberal parties’ policies in exchange for their support.

According to its supporters (mainly on the right), abolishing the cap on newbuilds will create more apartments and shorter housing queues. Its critics (mainly on the left) worry it is the first step towards rolling out market rents for all apartments, and will lead to higher rents.

Dadgostar put two choices to the government on Tuesday: either throw out the proposal completely, or immediately start negotiations with the Swedish Tenants’ Union (Hyresgästföreningen) to improve the proposal.

“If the government does not accept either alternative, we no longer have confidence in Stefan Löfven,” said Dadgostar.

It is unclear how the Left Party would move forward with a no-confidence vote. To hold such a vote at least 35 members of parliament need to sign the motion, but the Left Party only has 27 seats. The conservative Moderates and Christian Democrats (who don’t support the government, but do back market rents) have said they will not sign it.

The Sweden Democrats have said they would be willing to join forces with the Left Party for a no-confidence vote, but the Left has rejected the help of the anti-immigration party. The two parties are on opposite ends of the Swedish political spectrum.

If the Left Party manages to hold a vote, at least 175 of the country’s 349 members of parliament would need to vote in favour for the motion to pass. This means that it would ultimately need the support of the Moderates, Christian Democrats and the Sweden Democrats.

Tune in to The Local’s new podcast, Sweden in Focus, on Saturday, as we discuss this article in more detail.

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Sweden’s right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The four parties backing Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson as prime minister on Sunday announced that they had agreed to keep the current Speaker, Andreas Norlén in place, when the role is put to a vote as parliament opens on Monday.

Sweden's right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The parties won a three-seat majority over the bloc led by the incumbent Social Democrats in Sweden’s general election on September 11th, and are currently in the middle of negotiating how they will form Sweden’s next government. 

Sweden’s parliament meets at 11am for the official installation of the 349 MPs for this mandate period. The votes for the Speaker and three Deputy Speakers are the first item on the agenda, after which the parties each select their parliamentary leaders and then vote on who should chair each of the parliamentary committees. 

READ ALSO: What happens next as parliament reopens? 

In a joint press release announcing the decision, the parties also agreed that the Sweden Democrats would be given eight of the 16 chairmanships the bloc will have of parliamentary committees in the next parliament, and that MPs for all four parties would back Julia Kronlid, the Sweden Democrats’ Second Deputy Leader, as the second deputy Speaker, serving under Norlén. 

In the press release, the parties said that Norlén had over the last four years shown that he has “the necessary personal qualities and qualifications which the role requires”. 

The decision to retain Norlén, who presided over the 134 days of talks and parliamentary votes that led to the January Agreement in 2019, was praised by Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson. 

Norlén, she said in a statement, had “managed his responsibilities well over the past four years and been a good representative of Sweden’s Riksdag.” 

The decision to appoint Kronlid was opposed by both the Left Party and the Green Party, who said that she supported tightening abortion legislation, and did not believe in evolution.

The Green Party’s joint leader Märta Stenevi said that her party “did not have confidence in Julia Kronlid”, pointing to an interview she gave in 2014 when she said she did not believe that humans were descended from apes.

The party has proposed its finance spokesperson Janine Alm Ericson as a rival candidate. 

The Left Party said it was planning to vote for the Centre Party’s candidate for the post second deputy Speaker in the hope of blocking Kronlid as a candidate.