Sweden is to hold its first snap election in over half a century after the new minority centre-left government’s first budget was defeated in parliament.
It comes after the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats sided with the centre-right opposition.
Prime Minister Stefan Lofven blamed the centre-right he replaced in power less than three months ago for giving an effective veto to the far-right Sweden Democrats, who won 13 percent of the vote in September’s election.
“The previous four government parties made clear during the campaign in August and September that they would not let the Sweden Democrats get that kind of influence,” he told a news conference.
“Now they just gave them that kind of influence. That is exactly why we are calling this extra election.”
Lofven’s Social Democrat-Green coalition has been widely viewed as Sweden’s weakest government in decades.
Shunned by mainstream parties, the Sweden Democrats have threatened to make Sweden effectively ungovernable unless the country adopts tough immigration policies, including a 90 percent cut in the number of asylum seekers.
The party doubled its vote in September’s election to become the third largest party, echoing recent poll successes for the far right across Europe.
In neighbours Denmark and Finland, anti-immigration parties are now among the three most popular in some opinion polls. In Norway, a rightist populist party is in the ruling coalition.
The crisis has shaken the image of Sweden, a country often held up as a paragon of political and fiscal stability, in contrast to crisis-hit Europe.
Sweden’s early election will be held on March 22.
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