Statsminister Stefan Löfven (S). Foto: Linus Sundahl-Djerf/TT.

Löfven will not govern with the Alliance's budget

Sweden's Social Democrat prime minister, Stefan Löfven, has said that if the Alliance opposition's shadow budget wins in tomorrow's Parliament vote, he will not stay to administer it.

Lövfen made the comment in an interview with newspaper Dagens Nyheter on a day that could mark a crucial turn for the government and for Swedish politics.

Today, just before 5pm, the Sweden Democrats are expected to announce whether or not they will be voting for the government's budget or for the opposition's shadow budget. A vote for the opposition could lead to a government crisis and even a new election.

The other parties have made a point of giving the Sweden Democrats the cold shoulder because of their anti-immigration views. But because neither of the two main political blocks has a clear majority, the Sweden Democrats have a lot of power to help decide the country's future. The announcement they make today could have huge implications for the Swedish government. 

Tomorrow, the Sweden Democrats will put their budget forward against the budget of the Alliance, which is made up of the four former ruling parties: the conservative Moderates, the Centre Party, the Liberals and the Christian Democrats. The Alliance's budget will almost certainly win this round, because, alltogether, they have almost 100 more members of Parliament than the Sweden Democrats.

Then, the opposition Alliance's budget will go up against the budget of the governing Social Democrats and Greens. What happens next is crucial, because in the most extreme case, it could pave the way to new elections.

This is where the Sweden Democrats play a crucial role. They are announcing this afternoon already whether they are going to vote for the opposition Alliance's budget, or whether they will abstain from voting.

If the Sweden Democrats abstain, the government's budget will win with the help of the opposition Left party. That, in itself, does not necessarily guarantee a government victory, however, because the budget will go to various committees to hammer out the details, where it is unclear how much support the government will have.

However, if the Sweden Democrats vote for the Alliance's budget, then the opposition budget wins and that will trigger a "crisis of government".

Three things can happen if there is a crisis of government:

1. New elections. The government and only the government can call for a new election. If they do this - which they would announce towards the end of this month - Swedes would have to head back to the polls some time between December 29 and March 29.

2. The government resigns. If this happens, it is up to the speaker of Parliament to find a candidate for prime minister who could get support to form a new government. 

3. A compromise could be reached. The government can try to negotiate a compromise budget. If this happens, the party leaders and the MPs in the Parliamentary Committee on Finances play a central role. Here, there are regulations for handling the budget in a crisis situation that the government can try to take advantage of. 

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