Sweden’s Left Party Draws Up New Battle Lines for Welfare Crisis

(Bloomberg) --

Sweden’s ruling coalition is struggling to maintain the support of a key partner in parliament.

The Left Party is again threatening to work with the country’s conservative opposition parties unless the government coughs up an extra 10 billion kronor ($1.1 billion) to help municipalities weighed down by mounting welfare costs.

At a press conference in Stockholm on Tuesday the leader of the Left Party, Jonas Sjostedt, said he wants prime minister Stefan Lofven to respond to the new demands by Wednesday “at the latest.”

If the government doesn’t listen the Left party said it’s ready to sit down with the right-wing opposition -- the Moderate party and the Christian Democrats --- to discuss increased support for the welfare sector. Sjostedt also said he thinks it would be possible to find a majority in parliament in order to solve “the crisis.”

“This can’t wait, not until next year, not even until April and the spring amendment budget,” Sjostedt said.

The latest round of demands again illustrates the vulnerability of a social democrat-led government that was formed in 2019 after four months of party talks. In December the government narrowly averted a political crisis after the Left Party and other opposition parties backed down from a threat to depose a minister in protest against the privatization of employment services.

While a majority would require the support of the anti-immigration party the Sweden Democrats, Sjostedt reiterated that the Left Party will never formally negotiate with Jimmie Akesson’s nationalist party.

Earlier on Tuesday the Moderate Party made similar demands on the government, saying an additional 3 billion kronor was needed by March 1 to cover increased welfare costs. “We see it as an emergency situation,” party leader Ulf Kristersson said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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