- Sweden's center-left government is on the verge of collapse today, according to the BBC.
- The proximate cause is that prime minister Stefan Lofven can't secure a parliamentary majority for his proposed budget, which includes tax hikes to finance new spending on jobs.
- Lofven's coalition is the largest bloc in parliament, but only holds a minority of seats.
- Lofven has only been in office three months.
- In Sweden, like most parliamentary democracies, the "collapse" of a government means new elections not a period of anarchy.
Stefan Lofven's problematic minority government
The root cause of Lofven's troubles is the difficult manner in which he won the most recent Swedish election. His coalition of left-of-center parties secured more votes and parliamentary seats than the previous governing coalition of right-of-center parties. But neither coalition secured a majority of seats. Instead, the populist anti-immigration party Sweden Democrats pulled 13 percent of the vote.
Neither main group of parties was willing to join the Sweden Democrats in a coalition, so the prime minister's job fell to Lofven. But actually getting bills passed in parliament required the cooperation — or at least passive accommodation via abstention — of one of the opposition parties. That's a recipe for instability. So while it's mildly surprising that Lofven's government is collapsing it's not exactly shocking.
A sensible approach to gridlock
Americans may be familiar with the specter of a head of government being unable to secure a legislative majority for his key policy ideas. The Swedish solution to this dilemma — new elections which may resolve the gridlock — seems to have a lot of advantages over the American system of executive orders and repeated political crises.