Swedish Government Says It May Scrap Budget Vote to Avoid Defeat

Sweden’s government may cancel a final parliament vote on next year’s budget and re-submit the plan to avoid a defeat that could prompt new elections, after the king-maker Sweden Democrats threatened to block the budget.

If the Sweden Democrats announce that they will oppose the government’s budget, a first step could be to hand the proposal back to the finance committee in parliament to give the government more time to try to win enough backing for its budget ahead of a new vote at a later date, Financial Markets Minister Per Bolund said in an interview in Stockholm today.

“That is a possibility that exists,” Bolund said in his office at the Swedish Finance Ministry. “We have the whole time shown that we’re willing to engage in discussions in parliament to create consensus and majority, but there has been very little interest from the other side. I now hope that there is willingness to avoid throwing Sweden into political crisis.”

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Loefven, who ousted Fredrik Reinfeldt in September elections, risks going down in history as one of Sweden’s shortest-serving premiers if parliament doesn’t cooperate. His minority government faces a fight from the Sweden Democrats, an anti-immigration party that emerged as the third biggest after the election and has threatened to back the opposition’s alternative budget bill in next week’s vote.

The Sweden Democrats, which has said it plans to announce on Dec. 2 which proposal it will support, on Nov. 27 called on Loefven to consider cutting immigration in half in exchange for the party’s potential support for his budget proposal.

The party argues that reducing immigration by 50 percent would reduce state costs by 78 billion kronor ($10.5 billion), which could be used to increase support for refugees abroad and for measures designed to improve the life quality of Swedish pensioners and improve the environment for smaller companies.

Swedish Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson reiterated to reporters in parliament today that the government will not cooperate with the Sweden Democrats or meet any of its demands.

Bolund said the government, if it decides to cancel the Dec. 3 vote, would seek to get a budget approved before the end of this year. This “would just be a temporary postponement,” he said. The government “needs a budget we can work with.”

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