Four budget proposals from Sweden opposition

Sweden's right-wing Alliance quartet announced on Wednesday that it was going to present four separate budget alternatives in response to the government's proposal. But the parties denied they had abandoned plans to campaign together ahead of the election in 2018.

Four budget proposals from Sweden opposition
The Moderates' Anna Kinberg Batra, Annie Lööf of the Centre Party, the Christian Democrats' outgoing leader Göran Hägglund and Liberal Party leader Jan Björklund. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

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“Our own budget motions will apply in 2015,” wrote the Alliance's party secretary in a press release. But the four party leaders emphasized in an opinion piece for newspaper Dagens Nyheter on Wednesday that they will also “show that [they] stand for common values” and said they will campaign on a common manifesto in the next election, three-and-a-half years from now.

The announcement spells a shift from last autumn, when the Alliance's common opposition budget got more votes than the ruling centre-left coalition's proposal, because it was also backed by the nationalist Sweden Democrats, who hold the balance of power in parliament.

The incident sparked a government crisis in Sweden, which prompted Prime Minister Stefan Löfven to threaten to call a snap election. But the plans were abandoned at the eleventh hour after Löfven's Social Democrats and the opposition managed to agree on a deal in the so called 'December Agreement'.

The deal, which is set to last until 2022, means that the Alliance will not vote for its own alternative budget in the future, if this threatens the elected government's budget from getting passed. But the government also agreed not to present changes too radically different to last autumn's victorious budget in their spring budget this April.

Wednesday's announcement comes after Moderate Party leader Anna Kinberg Batra demanded that the government promises to “honour” the December Agreement, and political scientist Jonas Hinnfors called the move a “strategic decision”.

“If she knows that there will be separate budget proposals she can be bolder in criticizing the government, because they will then follow the usual budget practice we have had since the 1990s and in the end the Moderates can vote for their own proposals to the last breath,” Hinnfors, of Gothenburg University, told Swedish news wire TT.

The government is set to formally present its spring budget by April 15th. On Tuesday Löfven, flanked by Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson and coalition partners, the Green Party leaders Åsa Romson and Gustav Fridolin, announced plans to invest billions of kronor into a massive railway upgrade in the coming years, starting with 620 million kronor ($72m) in 2015.

Sweden's right-wing Alliance – the Moderate Party, the Centre Party, the Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats – was formed by former Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt ahead of the 2006 election. It was defeated by the Social Democrat-Green Party coalition in September 2014.

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Sweden boosts spending on civil defence in spring budget

Sweden is to channel a further 800 million kronor to local government and other organisations to bolster Sweden's civil defence capabilities, the country's finance minister has announced.

Sweden boosts spending on civil defence in spring budget

The new funding, which will go to municipalities, regional government, and other organisations, was announced of part of the country’s spring budget, announced on Tuesday. 

“This will strengthen our ability to resist in both war and peace,” Sweden’s finance minister, Mikael Damberg, said in a press conference. “If the worst happens, it’s important that there is physical protection for the population.” 

The government is channelling 91m kronor towards renovating Sweden’s 65,000 bomb shelters, and will also fund the repair the country’s network of emergency sirens, known as Hesa Fredrik, or Hoarse Fredrik, many of which are currently out of order. 

A bomb shelter in Stockholm. Sweden’s government is spending 800m kronor in its spring budget to boost civil defence. Photo: Anders Wiklund/ TT

Sweden’s Social Democrats are currently ruling on the alternative budget put together by the right-wing opposition, making this spring budget, which makes changes to the autumn budget, unusually important. 

The budget includes extra spending of some 31.4 billion kronor (€299m), with 500m kronor going to extra spending on healthcare,  and 10.3 billion kronor going towards supporting Ukrainian refugees, of which nine billion will come from the aid budget. 

The spring budget also includes the so called “pension guarantee bonus”, or garantitillägg, which will see four billion kronor (€390m) going to those with the lowest pensions. 

The bonus, which was the price the Left Party demanded for letting Magdalena Andersson take her place as prime minister, risks being voted down by the right-wing parties in the parliament.