Sweden’s opposition leader said she has no interest in creating chaos in the budget process for the minority government as the nation grapples with record inflows of refugees that risk straining state coffers.
“Sweden is in a serious situation, and to in that situation steer the country towards chaos is not an alternative for us,” Anna Kinberg Batra, head of the Moderate Party, said in a speech Saturday at a party congress in Karlstad, Sweden.
The opposition earlier this month exited a deal crafted in December that was designed to allow the Social Democratic-led government pass its budgets. Both the center-right and center-left blocs are without a majority in parliament and are trying to limit the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats from using its power broker status to set policy. The group last year caused the government’s budget to fail, almost triggering a new election.
Discontent had been brewing among opposition lawmakers that the agreement had given the government too much freedom to set policy as it plans tax increases, higher welfare spending and increased outlays on jobs programs and education.
For now, each of the four parties in the opposition bloc will release and vote for their own budgets, making it likely that the government will pass its plan later next month.
Kinberg Batra said that the opposition, which ruled together for eight years before losing power last year, will before 2018 at the latest present a joint budget plan again.
Nevertheless, she said she expects Prime Minister Stefan Loefven to adhere to what parliament decides.
Loefven ”has a weak minority government,” she said. “Now he’s asking us for guarantees to do exactly as he wants to, without considering the parliamentary situation. That’s not responsible. That’s arrogant.”
She said the government needs to set a new course on the immigration issue, with Sweden accepting the most refugees per capita in the European Union. Her party on Saturday opened up for moving to temporary residence permits for those flowing in, rather than the permanent ones many are now securing. Sweden, a nation of 10 million people, may receive as many as 150,000 refugees this year.
“No other country has accepted as many asylum seekers as Sweden,” she said. “That can’t continue. Europe’s countries have agreed on a more even distribution. But Sweden can’t be alone in taking its responsibility.”
The government and opposition are holding talks on the issue, and temporary residence permits, increased border controls and forcing all municipalities to take refugees are some of the proposals on the table.
Johan Forssell, migration policy spokesman for the Moderates, said in an interview that the higher influx will of course “affect the budget.”
“The cost picture is important” in the proposals we put forward to the government, he said.