STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The leader of the far-right Sweden Democrats, who hold the balance of power in parliament, said on Friday that mainstream parties should negotiate with them before the government’s centerpiece budget vote or risk a new election.
All parties have refused to talk to the Sweden Democrats despite them taking 13 percent of the vote in last month’s election, giving them the power to bring down the government.
Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s Social Democrats has formed a minority government with the Green Party and with support from the Left Party they put forward a budget bill this week. The four-party Alliance grouping, now in opposition, will make its budget proposal in the coming weeks.
Whichever budget gets the most votes wins and traditionally parties only vote for a budget they helped negotiate. But the Sweden Democrats have said they may vote for the Alliance budget meaning the opposition would win, bringing down the government.
That could spark the first snap election since 1958.
“In budget matters we have significant influence,” the Sweden Democrats’ acting leader Mattias Karlsson told Reuters.
“If they really want to avoid new elections they should talk to the winners of the elections, Sweden’s third largest party and the party who hold the balance of power in parliament.”
Karlsson, leader in the absence of Jimmie Akesson who is on sick leave for stress-related exhaustion, called for more funding for law and order, defense and pensioners in the budget. His party wants to cut asylum seeker numbers by 90 percent.
“We owe it to our constituents to try to get as much as possible of our policies into reality,” he said during an interview in his parliament office.
“We have said that we are compromise-friendly and humble to the fact that we have 13 and not 51 percent. Therefore, we are willing to cooperate and negotiate and engage in dialogue with all parties, but no one has responded.”
Sweden is used to minority governments. A willingness to make deals on individual issues with opposition parties has made it easier for minority governments to survive.
Political scientists doubt that the Sweden Democrats would vote against the government and bring it down as that might hurt their carefully cultivated image of respectability. Polls after the election show support increasing for the Sweden Democrats.
Even if the budget passes, the opposition may still be able to scupper some of the measures it contains.
The Sweden Democrats have said they may try to stop a plan to halt nuclear power development and plans for trainee jobs in welfare. In the longer term, they could also make plans to cut the role of for-profit welfare companies tough to push through.
Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Louise Ireland