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Sweden PM Loses Confidence Vote        06/21 06:10

   

   STOCKHOLM (AP) -- Stefan Lofven, Sweden's Social Democratic prime minister 
since 2014, lost a confidence vote in parliament on Monday amid a housing 
crisis and skyrocketing real estate prices, making him the first Swedish 
government leader ever to lose such a motion.

   The vote was initiated by the small Left Party, an ally of the minority 
government that is not in the two-party center-left coalition but had provided 
the votes to pass legislation.

   At the center of a controversy that sparked the Left Party to lose 
confidence and vote against Lofven are plans to deregulate Sweden's housing 
market because of accelerating price increases that took place during the 
pandemic.

   Sweden has strict regulations on rents aimed at maintaining affordable 
prices in larger cities. However, this disincentives property developers from 
building new homes for the rental market. People needing to rent a home can 
find themselves waiting for years for a contract, and buying property is 
increasingly hard amid soaring home prices.

   However, the Left Party fears that deregulating the rental market will lead 
to rapid price increases and deeper segregation between rich and poor.

   It is unclear what will happen next in Sweden. Lofven said last week he 
would wait for the vote and then "think through what is best for Sweden."

   The prime minister has one week to decide whether to call an early election.

   Over the weekend, Lofven held last-minute meetings seeking to secure a 
majority in parliament for his proposed rent reforms. On Sunday, he sought to 
soften the reforms by inviting landlords and tenant organizations for talks.

   However, the leader of the Left Party Nooshi Dadgostar stood by its decision 
to oppose Lofven and said his effort was "a political show."

   "We have done something that is perceived as unusual in politics ... kept 
our word," she said.

 
 
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