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Saturday, 27 December 2014

Swedish centre-left make deal with opposition, call off snap vote............

STOCKHOLM:- Sweden's mainstream parties reached a deal on Saturday that will allow the minority centre-left government to remain in office and sideline the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, who hold the balance of power in parliament.
Sweden's normally stable politics were thrown into turmoil in December when Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said he would call a snap election in March after his budget was voted down by the centre-right opposition and the Sweden Democrats.
"Sweden has a tradition of solving difficult questions," Lofven said. "I am happy we have reached a deal that means that Sweden can be governed."
The deal between the centre-left Social Democrats and Green coalition and the four-party centre-right Alliance will mean Lofven will have to follow the opposition's budget next year, although he can make some changes in spring.
The Alliance will abstain from voting against the government's budgets from spring onwards. The snap election, which had been due to take place on Mar. 22, has been cancelled.
Under the deal, which lasts until 2022, the two blocs have also agreed to coordinate policy on pensions, defence and energy.
"It means that Sweden can be governed by the parties that have the biggest support among voters," centre right Moderate Party acting leader Anna Kinberg Batra said.
Despite a tradition of minority governments, Sweden has not had a snap election since 1958, but the rise of the Sweden Democrats, reflecting gains made by the far right across Europe in recent years, had led to parliamentary deadlock.
The party, the country's third biggest after September's general election, had threatened to bring down any government that did not curb rising immigration.
The centre-left and centre-right refused to have anything to do with the far-right, but their unwillingness to do a deal with each other left the Sweden Democrats with an effective veto.
The Sweden Democrats wanted to make any snap election a referendum on Sweden's generous immigration policies.
Recent opinion polls show that a new election would not have broken the political deadlock in parliament with neither the centre-right and centre-left able to form a majority government and the Sweden Democrats continuing to hold the balance of power.
Some polls have shown Lofven's Social Democrats, the biggest government party, gaining support, along with the Sweden Democrats.
A poll by Novus on Dec. 16, put support for the Sweden Democrats at 16 percent, up from 12.9 percent in September's vote.