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 parliament votes by huge majority in favour of Nato accession

Sweden's parliament has voted to ratify the country's accession to the Nato defence alliance, with its historic bill to end two centuries of non-alignment passing with a margin of 269 to 37.

Sweden’s parliament votes by huge majority in favour of Nato accession

During the six-hour debate over the bill, Sweden’s foreign minister, Tobias Billström, said he was convinced that the country’s membership would be ratified by Turkey and Hungary, the two hold-outs in the 30-member alliance, before the summit due to be held in Vilnius in the second week of July. 

“It is obvious that we are going to be able to be members at Vilnius,” he said during the debate, pointing to the backing of the other 28 member states and strong support from the US. “The strength that we have behind us is so tangible that it’s possible to come to such a judgement.”

If Sweden were not to be a member before the summer, he continued, it would put Nato’s open-door policy, a key part of its framework, in question. 

Only two of the eight parties in the Swedish parliament voted against the bill, the Left Party and the Green Party, with their MPs providing all of the 37 “no” votes. A further 43 MPs were absent. 

“It is problematic to join a military alliance with countries which are not democratic, and where we see daily that democracy is withering,” said Håkan Svenneling, the Left Party’s foreign policy spokesperson. “They are now trying to use our application to silence our voice on democracy and human rights.” 

The two parties were also critical of the fact that Sweden was now joining an alliance backed by nuclear weapons. 

“The Nato nuclear alliance is built on the idea of using nuclear weapons as a method of deterrence,” said the Green Party’s Jacob Risberg. “The Green Party do not believe in that doctrine, but believe quite the contrary, that this could lead to more conflict.” 

The Social Democrat’s foreign policy spokesperson Morgan Johansson said he was confident that Sweden would not be made to host nuclear weapons on its territory, even though its agreement with Nato contains no formal statement ruling this out. 

The government’s Nato proposition states that “there is no reason to have nuclear weapons or permanent bases on Swedish territory in peacetime”. 

“I feel completely confident in the test which has been drawn up. There is nothing at all pushing for Sweden to be forced to host bases or nuclear weapons,” he said.