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Sweden in Crisis

Sweden has been a rare beacon of success in Europe in the years since the 2008 global financial crisis, which is why many are shocked that its latest government collapsed only two months after taking office. What happened, and how likely is it that a snap election will restore stability?

STOCKHOLM – After decades of adherence to more or less stable rules and predictable patterns, Swedish politics has entered uncharted territory in recent weeks. Many are shocked that the government collapsed and had to call a new election only two months after taking office. After all, Sweden had been a rare beacon of success in Europe in the years since the 2008 global financial crisis. So what happened?

The immediate cause of the government’s demise was Parliament’s rejection of the center-left coalition’s proposed budget, in favor of the budget presented by the center-right Alliance parties, which formed the previous government. Having failed to pass its first budget – owing to the abrupt decision by the far-right Swedish Democrats (SD) to support the Alliance alternative – the government could not simply continue as if nothing had happened.

The background to this episode was the September election, which the four-party Alliance lost after eight years in power (during which I served as Foreign Minister). The Alliance government was widely considered to have been successful; but eight years is a long time in politics.

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