Swedish PM kicks off second term with new minority gov't

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 22.01.2019 00:17

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven yesterday presented his two-party, center-left minority government that has ended a four-month political deadlock. Lofven, approved by parliament last week, lined up a 21-member government, made up of 17 members of Lofven's own Social Democratic Party and four from the Greens, and makes minor changes to his outgoing government.

A national election in September delivered a hung parliament and it took four months of wrangling before Lofven reached an unprecedented deal with the Centre and Liberals to secure a government that would not need support from the anti-immigration, far-right Sweden Democrats. It is the third-largest Swedish party since making great strides in the Sept. 9 national election.

"Right-wing extremists and their movements are spreading around Europe," Lofven said in his address to parliament. "In many countries, groups with anti-democratic agendas have even got into government. But in Sweden ... we choose a different path."

The deal will see Lofven's minority government of Social Democrats and Greens cut income taxes, free up the tightly regulated labor market and loosen rent controls as well as boost spending on welfare, schools, the police and defense. The former welder and union leader will have to tread carefully as much of the policy platform is seen by many as a betrayal of his party's core values, while the Centre and Liberals also face a backlash for dumping the center-right Alliance bloc.

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