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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Swedish bank predicts key interest rates will drop in November

A new interest rate prognosis from Swedish state-owned SBAB bank predicts that Sweden's central bank will hike key interest rates substantially in April, but will be able to lower them again as early as November.

Swedish bank predicts key interest rates will drop in November

In the new report, SBAB bank believes that the central bank will raise key interest rates by 0.5 percentage points to a total of 3.5 percent.

Unlike many other banks, SBAB does not believe that the central bank will raise rates at the following meeting this summer, rather that rates will remain the same from April until November, after which they will drop by 0.25 percentage points to 3.25 percent.

“We believe that we will soon see underlying inflation and not least food prices dropping back,” chief economist Robert Boije told TT newswire.

It further predicts that the average interest rate on mortgages could hit a peak of 4.8 percent in the autumn, and that the drop in key interest rates in November will be the first of many, leading to a key interest rate of 2 percent by 2024.