Sweden slams EU on call for states to determine minimum wage
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Sweden’s political landscape is changing at rates never before seen. This week, the country plummeted into a full-blown crisis after a clash over housing policy resulted in a fragmented parliament. Social Democrat Prime Minister Stefan Löfven saw 181 lawmakers vote against him.
He now has a week to decide whether to call a snap election or resign and move towards building a new governing coalition.
As the country’s once stable political position crumbles, the far-right Sweden Democrats (SD) have made serious gains in both influence and attention.
Countries Europe over have seen right-wing, nationalist parties gain traction in recent years, with the coronavirus pandemic having sped-up the process.
SD are, like other right-wing parties on the continent, vehemently opposed to the EU and increasingly confident in voicing criticism.
In return for this SD and its leader Jimmie Åkesson have gained a surge in popularity from the public and a handful of Swedish politicians.
Mr Åkesson recently persuaded three other opposition party chiefs that they will need his support to take power from Mr Löfven in an election.
If successful, SD could push an anti-EU agenda to the heart of Sweden’s parliament, raising fears among Brussels top brass.
Speaking to Politico, Tommy Möller, a political scientist at Stockholm University told of how immediate change could arrive.
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He said: “This is definitively a formative moment within Swedish politics.
“The landscape is changing rapidly.”
SD first entered parliament in 2010.
Back then, the party looked doomed to fail.
As Mr Åkesson gained momentum, former Moderate Party leader Fredrik Reinfeldt, Sweden’s prime minister from 2006 until 2014, called SD a “xenophobic force” and refused to discuss policy with them at all.
It is true that SD was previously a messy mix of unsavoury elements.
When Mr Åkesson joined the party in 1995 it included several neo-Nazi figures.
Since becoming leader in 2005 he has purged the party of people who have made racist statements.
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SD really gained popularity in 2015 amid Europe’s migration crisis and a resulting spike in the number of asylum seekers entering Sweden.
This caused a change in approach for the Moderates, as well as their long-time partners the Christian Democrats, and the Liberals.
Ulf Kristersson, who became Moderate leader in 2017, initially rejected collaboration with SD.
However, since narrowly losing an election to Mr Löfven in 2018, he has slowly shifted direction, becoming increasingly clear over recent months that he is now ready to seek SD backing to avoid another defeat.
The series of events falling into SD’s hands look grave for the EU.
In 2018, Peter Helmut, a local Swedish Democrat warned that the bloc’s behaviour over Brexit may trigger Sweden’s own departure.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, he said: “We don’t have any faith in the EU.
“We don’t think they should tell us what to do in Sweden, the laws and so forth.
“Yes, we want to leave the EU. You call it Brexit, we call it Swexit.
“Why are there problems in the talks? It’s not Britain. It’s the EU that makes the problem.”
According to Politico’s ‘Poll of Polls’, SD is currently in third place at 19 percent, compared to Mr Löfven’s Social Democrats which is on 25 percent.
Mr Kristersson’s Moderates trail slightly behind at 22 percent, revealing just how small the margins are between the vastly different parties.
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