Translation of DN Debatt 9 Dec 2014

Translation of DN Debatt 9 Dec 2014 (see here for a description of this project). My analysis comes in the next post.

“With new rules, we can make minority governments possible”

Updated 2014-12-09 07:03. Published 2014-12-09 00:05

We want to come to an agreement. The extra election is a failure of Stefan Löfven’s, in a situation caused by the Sweden Democrats. We are prepared to come to an agreement on the rules for the vote on the prime minister and the budget vote before the extra election. Therefore we now invite the prime minister to talks, the Alliance’s senior representatives write.

After just two months as Prime Minister of Sweden, it is clear that Stefan Löfven has failed.

The main cause is that the Sweden Democrats chose to violate praxis, but the fact that the government has not taken responsibility for the parliamentary situation has also contributed.

Instead of earnestly inviting the entire Alliance to concretely discuss how the country is to be governed, Löfven has again and again talked about collaboration in vague terms. Most recently, when it became clear that the government’s budget was highly likely to fall. The only offers that were given concerned how the Alliance could provide support for his leftist government.

We welcome an extra election that can enable a government that takes its starting point in the political center – the normal situation in Swedish politics – to come to power. Through the Alliance cooperation, we have over eight years demonstrated that we can assume such a responsibility for Sweden, where the political extremes are deprived of decisive influence and where broad agreements have been reached on important issues.

The basis of our government has throughout been to present our policies beforehand to the Swedish voters, so that everyone should know how our political alternative looks. Therefore, the Alliance announced in advance of the election that we would vote for our budget option, regardless of election outcome. The budget the government presented would have slowed Sweden down. Higher taxes on work and business is bad for jobs and growth. Our mission is to take responsibility for Sweden, not to secure a social-democratic hold on power.

Sweden now has a budget that applies to 2015. It is a budget which means that the successful policies that have created over 300,000 new jobs, secured the government finances and increased resources for our common welfare, remains unchanged. The government’s heavy taxes on labor and employment would have slowed the development of the labor market and hit Sweden’s growth.

Meanwhile, the parliamentary situation has changed and Sweden will in all probability be governed by minority governments in the future. We are therefore prepared to come to an agreement across the left-right divide – before the election – on rules that enable such governments to act. If Stefan Löfven is serious about his talk of an outreached hand, he should say the same.

The Alliance has governed Sweden both as a majority government and a minority government. We managed to do this by negotiating in Parliament with the Social Democrats and the Green Party. For instance, we came to a broad settlement on migration with the Green Party. We made an agreement with the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left Party on the Fiscal Policy Council. In the Free School Committee, the Alliance, the Social Democrats and the Green Party came to an agreeement. In the Defence Committee the Alliance and the Social Democrats agreed on the basics of defense policy. Sweden has participated in international efforts in Afghanistan, Libya, in the waters around the Horn of Africa and soon in Mali, based on decisions made in broad agreement in Parliament. Within the framework of the Pensions Group important decisions to increase the stability of the pension system were reached.

The alliance government, too, was at times forced to back away from its policy proposals. This was usually done without fanfare in negotiations in the parliamentary committees. That is how it works when you run a minority government. That is how negotiations in the Swedish parliament works.

The current left-wing government’s actions have instead regrettably mainly been characterized by attempts to create conflicts. Despite Löfven talking of cooperation, he has in his short time as prime minister betrayed the agreement in the Free School Committee, violated the Rules of Procedure of the Pensions Group and broken a series of promises from the election campaign. The government’s actions have in practice been very far from the rhetoric of cooperation and collaboration.

Today, no party can expect a majority, nor can any party expect to form a government alone. This Alliance has been our response to this change.

In order to cope with the changing parliamentary position in the future, two things are particularly important: clarity around how the prime minister is to be appointed and on how the party group that has the greatest parliamentary backing is to be able to implement their economic policies. The changes required can be made in the Parliament Act, through legislation or agreements.

We have suggested talks with the red-green parties to find a long-term way forward. We hope and believe that the time is ripe for the red-green parties to assume their responsibility and meet the Alliance parties for conversations. We want to see a shared responsibility that lays the foundation for protecting the stability that historically has been a hallmark of Swedish democracy.

Our position has always been that the party group which gets the greatest support in the election should bear the responsibilities of government. This means that we intend to follow the same principle as we have done before: if the Alliance cannot form a government we abstain from voting if the chairman’s proposal for new Prime Minister is a natural consequence of the parliamentary situation and it seems reasonable that the government in the main can win support for his policies. This is to show respect to the voters. For several reasons, we reject the ideas of grand coalition put forward from different directions. To begin with, the political differences between the two party groups are wide, but we may also observe that most of the countries that chose this path thereby strengthened the conditions for extremist parties to grow even stronger.

We want to develop and strengthen the rules on the budget and how work in the parliament is conducted to create stable conditions for Sweden to be controlled under a new parliamentary situation. The framework surrounding the budget needs to be strengthened. It must be clear that the budget should be accepted or rejected in its entirety.

We are also ready to discuss the voting rules in parliament to avoid the kind of irresponsible behavior that Sweden Democrats now have showed. The starting point would be that the budget alternative that has the strongest support in Parliament actually becomes the winning budget. Changes to voting rules could be implemented by an agreement between the parties or through a change in the Parliament Act regarding the budget vote. These rule changes could be limited to decisions that are budget-related, such as the budget bill, the spring budget and amending budgets.

These are absolutely central questions for how Sweden is to be governed, and voters deserve clear answers already before the extra election 22 March. Therefore, we now reach out our hand to the red-green parties to jointly find long-term solutions for the future. If we can agree on such changes, we are prepared to help ensure that they can be implemented without delay.

We now go to an extra election for the first time in over half a century. The government has failed to take responsibility for the parliamentary situation. We are ready to take on this responsibility, regardless of the outcome of the election. Our goal is an Alliance government that can continue to strengthen the economy and work for more jobs and investment in our common welfare.

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