Löfven II Cabinet
The second cabinet of Stefan Löfven (Swedish: Regeringen Löfven II) is the present Government of Sweden. It is a coalition, consisting of two parties: the Social Democrats and the Green Party. The cabinet was installed on 21 January 2019, following the 2018 general election.
|Stefan Löfven's second cabinet|
|54th Cabinet of Sweden|
|Date formed||21 January 2019|
|People and organisations|
|Head of state||Carl XVI Gustaf|
|Head of government||Stefan Löfven|
|Deputy head of government||Per Bolund (de jure) |
Morgan Johansson (de facto)
|No. of ministers||23|
|Member party||Social Democrats|
|Status in legislature||Centre-left coalition minority government|
with confidence & supply from the Centre Party and the Liberals
|Opposition party||Moderate Party|
|Predecessor||Löfven I Cabinet|
With only 116 out of 349 seats (33%) in the Riksdag (Swedish parliament), the "red-green" coalition began as one of the weakest minority governments in Swedish history, and it relies on support from other parties in the Riksdag.
The cabinet was installed following a formal government meeting with King Carl XVI Gustaf on 21 January 2019. Stefan Löfven had previously announced his cabinet ministers at a parliament session on the same day.
Stefan Löfven's second cabinet is one of the weakest governments in Swedish history. As such, it currently depends on support from other parties in the Riksdag. The red-green government's retention of power is the result of a joint agreement between the Social Democrats, the Green Party, the Centre Party and the Liberals. The 16-page document, signed in January, which is commonly referred to as Januariavtalet (lit. the January Agreement) dictates what government policy will look like for the foreseeable future.
- The Centre Party and Liberals agree to abstain from voting against Stefan Löfven's re-election.
- The Left Party shall not receive any influence over Swedish politics for the following years.
- Passing a test in Swedish and in the basics of civics shall be mandatory in order to acquire Swedish citizenship.
- The värnskatt tax is to be abolished by 2020. This tax, which was adopted in 1995 by the Social Democrats, is a surtax of five additional percentage points on anyone's annual income that exceeds 703,000 crowns.
- The Employment Protection Act (LAS) is to be amended by no later than 2021. The amendments are to include additional exceptions to the rules of seniority regarding redundancy terminations of employees. A government inquiry was started in April 2019.
- The government is to refrain from proposing legislation which limits or prevents the private sector from generating profits from their work in the welfare system.
- Taxes on environmentally unfriendly goods and services are to be increased while taxes on salaries are to be lowered. This is known as grön skatteväxling (lit. "green tax shifting") in Swedish politics and will amount to 15 billion crowns (circa €1,38 billion).
- The increased tax on retirees is to be abolished by 2020 and general pensions are to be increased by 2021.
- A "family week" is to be introduced. Working parents who have children between the ages of four and sixteen receive three days off each within the framework of parental insurance. These days are intended to be used when children cannot attend school due to school breaks, etc. Single parents receive six days.
- The tax reduction on household services (the RUT-avdrag) is to include an additional range of services.
- Employers' state fees are to be decreased.
- The Public Employment Service will undergo a fundamental reform and will have to compete with private employment agencies.
Additionally, the agreement includes investments and policy changes across many areas:
- Investments are to be made into the countryside, such as increased possibilities for distance education. The government is also to ensure that no more government services locate their headquarters in the capital, Stockholm, during the government term.
- The national digital infrastructure is to be drastically improved, a goal has been set to guarantee that 95% of all households and businesses has access to a broadband speed of at least 100 Mbit/s by 2020.
- Investments in the railway and road infrastructure across the country will amount to 700 billion crowns (~€65,2 billion) between 2018 and 2029.
- The Swedish Transport Administration is to be tasked with maintaining daily over-night trains to several European cities.
- A proposition regarding fossil fuel-free transports aims to prohibit the sale of new gasoline- and diesel-driven cars. An inquiry into such a prohibition is to be made during 2019 and a prohibition would require approval by the European Commission.
- The abolished aviation tax is to be reintroduced.
- The punishment for honor-related violent crimes is to be strengthened.
- Municipalities shall reserve the right to limit state aid to those asylum seekers who manage to find their own housing in areas with socio-economic difficulties.
- The ability to set rents on newly built residential developments is to be left to the property manager.
- Four separate taxes which are collectively known as the flyttskatt ("move tax") are to be abolished
- Academic grading is to be allowed as of year 4 (age 10) of elementary school, instead of year 6, but it is to be voluntary for schools to grade students until year 6.
- No more privately owned schools with a religious orientation are to be opened.
- The possibilities for a state-run education system are to be explored.
- The right to receive and subsidy for assistance for care revolving around breathing and tube feeding, which was abolished in the Moderate and Christian Democrat budget, is to be restored.
- 10,000 more police employees by 2024.
- A principle to prohibit weapon export deals with non-democratic countries which are known to participate militarily in the Yemeni conflict until the conflict ends.
The government proposed to reduce employers’ social security contributions to increase young people's employment in 2019. The Swedish fossil-free initiatives proposals amounted to 1,950 million crowns, including investments in biogas and home charging of 750 million kronor, wetland protection at 200 million, and solar cell subsidies of 300 million. Aviation tax of 785 million crowns a year is to be collected.
2020 state budget
Minister for Finance Magdalena Andersson delivered the 2020 budget proposal to the Riksdag on 18 September 2019. The proposed budget contains points from the January agreement between the Centre Party, Greens, the Liberals and the Social Democrats. The reforms of the budget are expected to cost the state 30 billion crowns.
Arguably the most significant reform in the budget proposal is the abolished värnskatt tax. The värnskatt is a surtax which was adopted in 1995 by the Social Democrats. It taxes five additional percentage points on anyone's annual income that exceeds 703,000 crowns. The Liberals have pushed for removing the värnskatt for a long period of time. The reform is expected to cost the state 6.1 billion crowns each year.
The largest reform in terms of increasing revenue in the budget is the three-crown tax on plastic bags which is expected to generate 2 billion crowns in tax revenue.
Other tax-political reforms include the lowering of taxes for the elderly with a pension of at least 17 000 crowns per month, as well as a tax break for people living in certain rural municipalities. The eligible municipalities cover most of Norrland and Dalarna and parts of Värmland and Dalsland.
The regions and municipalities of Sweden will receive a general contribution of five billion crowns. The municipalities will receive 3.5 billion crowns and the regions will receive 1.5 billion. All of which will be distributed equally according to each subdivision's population. An additional 410 million crowns will be going toward efforts to combat and prevent segregation on the local and regional levels, with a reserve fund of 85 million being made available for the same purpose.
The government claims that the reforms are going to increase the gap between the poor and the rich, as well as between men and women.
Measures against gang crime
In September 2019, talks were held between the government parties and the centre-right Moderates, Christian Democrats, Centre Party and Liberals regarding an agreement concerning measures for combating gang violence and organized crime. Negotiations broke down on 21 September 2019, with three of the centre-right parties (M, L and KD) leaving the talks. The Moderate spokesman for justice affairs stated that "We can agree to a lot of the crime prevention work [proposals]. Regarding the strengthening of justice policy, I can affirm that we are still very far from each other". The Moderates demanded additional police officers, the doubling of prison time for gang-related offences, the ability to turn state's evidence and the abolishing of mandatory lenient sentencing for young offenders. The Christian Democrats, Centre Party and Liberals have all pushed for the ability of witnesses to testify on the condition of anonymity.
On the same day, following the breakdown of the negotiations, the government announced their own package of measures to combat gang crime. The package consists of 34 proposals which include giving the police the ability to read and listen to encrypted communications, transferring certain police responsibilities to community service officers and increasing the mandatory minimum sentences for several crimes such as weapons and explosives offences, recruiting youth for criminal activities and for conveying narcotics to others. Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson announced on 22 September that they would support the government package, provided that the proposals lead to concrete reforms. The Christian Democrats stated that they would be supporting certain parts of the package.
Following the shooting of a 15-year-old boy in Malmö on the night of 9 November, the opposition parties called for a vote of no-confidence against Minister of Justice Morgan Johansson, deeming him at least partly responsible for the recent wave of violent crime. Two days later, on 11 November, the police launched Operation Rimfrost with the mission of curbing gang violence, with police officials claiming that a "difference would be noticed" within roughly six months.
Response to Covid-19 outbreak
On 24 February, the government announced that they would be spending 40 million SEK (roughly €4 million) towards the World Health Organization's efforts in containing the 2019-20 coronavirus outbreak. Public gatherings of more than 500 people were banned on 11 March. A set of emergency reforms were announced on 16 March in order to curb the economic effects of the coronavirus. The state will provide all employees with paid sickness leave and will also give companies more time to pay taxes. The reform package has a capped budget of 300 billion crowns. On 17 March, schools providing secondary and higher education (gymnasium and universities) were advised to close and to teach classes remotely. In conjunction with the European Union announcing a 30-day travel ban for people entering the Union, the government instituted a ban on non-essential travel from non-EU nations to Sweden in the evening of 17 March.
Employment Protection Act (LAS) reform
Negotiations between the Swedish Trade Union Confederation and the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise regarding the reform of the Employment Protection Act (LAS) failed on 1 October 2020. As the reform of LAS is stipulated to occur by no later than 2022, unless negotiations are resumed, the government is expected to step in and execute the reforms put forward in their 2019 inquiry. The Left Party is firmly against the suggested reforms and has vowed to launch a vote of no confidence against the government if they were to go through with the reforms. The right-wing opposition parties have indicated that they would support the Left during such a vote, which would be enough for a majority. Trade union and enterprise leaders stated that they were willing to resume talks on 14 October.
- Employers are to be legally required to develop their employees' skills and levels of competence.
- Dismissing employees on personal grounds will be made less costly and easier.
- The number of employees who may be exempt from the rules of seniority regarding terminations will be increased from two to five.
- Employers are to have total freedom of choice of who to dismiss when there is a lack of work.
- Interns are to be entitled to priority during the hiring process after nine months with a company instead of the current twelve-month requirement.
In 2018, the government fired Director-General Ann-Marie Begler of the Social Insurance Agency. The Minister for Social Security, Annika Strandhäll, stated that the government had been dissatisfied with Begler's performance for a long time and that she had voluntarily resigned, something that Begler denied. Additionally, e-mails were sent to the Riksdag Constitution Committee by senior managers at the Social Insurance Agency. The senior managers accused Minister Strandhäll of lying and demanded that Begler be reinstated.
Criticism from major political parties started with the Moderates, with Ulf Kristersson accusing the government of firing the Director-General for the purposes of electioneering. The liberal-conservative party spearheaded an effort to sack the Minister for Social Security through a motion of no-confidence, an effort which had the support of the Moderates, the Christian Democrats and the Sweden Democrats. On the evening of May 27, the Centre Party announced that it would not be supporting the vote of no-confidence against Strandhäll. The vote was held on May 28 and failed, with 172 MPs supporting the motion, 113 voting against and 59 abstaining. Support is required from at least 175 MPs. Strandhäll received a formal warning by the Riksdag Constitution Committee in June 2019.
Reform of the Public Employment Service
In accordance with the January agreement, the government initiated a reform of the Public Employment Service in order to open the market for competition from employment agencies in the private sector. This, in combination with the adoption of the conservative-authored 2019 state budget, resulted in a major budget cut for the agency. In early 2019, the Service announced that they would be sacking 4,500 employees and closing 132 offices around the country. The cuts drew severe criticism from opposition parties, with the Left Party threatening a vote of no-confidence against Minister for Employment Eva Nordmark on 21 November, a move which by December was backed by the three conservative opposition parties. As a result, the government was forced to put the reform on hold for a year. In a memo, the government authorized the Public Employment Service to ensure adequate service in areas where the closures of local offices had been ordered.
- The Prime Minister has not appointed a Deputy Prime Minister in accordance with 8 § Chapter 6 of the Instrument of Government. Thus, the de facto Deputy Prime Minister defaults to the longest-serving member of the cabinet, Morgan Johansson. Bolund's title vice statsminister is ceremonial.
- "Sweden's new Government". Government of Sweden. 2019-01-21.
- Wedin, Helena (11 January 2019). "Uppgörelsen mellan S, MP, L och C – punkt för punkt". SVT Nyheter. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
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- "Värnskatten tas bort nästa år - det här betyder det" (in Swedish). Expressen. Retrieved 2019-05-09.
- "Utredning tillsätts för att utreda arbetsrätten". Regeringskansliet (in Swedish). 2019-04-25. Retrieved 2019-05-09.
- "Fortsatt grön skatteväxling" (in Swedish). Environmental Protection Agency. ISBN 91-620-5390-6. Retrieved 2019-07-16.
- "Proposals for reforms and financing in the Spring Amending Budget for 2019" (PDF). Government of Sweden. Retrieved 2019-07-16.
- "Larmet: 110 kommuner väntas gå minus i år". DN.SE (in Swedish). 2019-06-30. Retrieved 2019-09-19.
- "Tre saker du behöver veta om höstbudgeten". DN.SE (in Swedish). 2019-09-18. Retrieved 2019-09-19.
- "Regeringens proposition 2019/20:1 | Budgetproposition för 2020" (PDF). Government of Sweden. 13 September 2019. Retrieved 19 September 2019.
- "Damberg öppnar för anonyma vittnen: "Inga förslag är omöjliga"". DN.SE (in Swedish). 2019-09-11. Retrieved 2019-09-27.
- "M, KD och L lämnar krimsamtalen". DN.SE (in Swedish). 2019-09-21. Retrieved 2019-09-27.
- "Efter avbrutna samtalen – regeringen lägger fram åtgärdspaket". DN.SE (in Swedish). 2019-09-21. Retrieved 2019-09-27.
- "M kommer rösta för regeringens förslag mot gängvåldet". DN.SE (in Swedish). 2019-09-22. Retrieved 2019-09-27.
- TT. "Tonårspojke ihjälskjuten i Malmö". gp.se (in Swedish). Retrieved 2019-11-11.
- "SD och M ska väcka misstroende mot Morgan Johansson (S)". DN.SE (in Swedish). 2019-11-11. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
- "Noa: Resultatet bör märkas om ett halvår". DN.SE (in Swedish). 2019-11-11. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
- "Regeringen avsätter 40 miljoner till WHO:s krisorganisation". DN.SE (in Swedish). 2020-02-24. Retrieved 2020-02-27.
- "Regeringen stoppar sammankomster med fler än 500". DN.SE (in Swedish). 2020-03-11. Retrieved 2020-03-11.
- "Stort krispaket till svenska företag". DN.SE (in Swedish). 2020-03-16. Retrieved 2020-03-17.
- "Det nya coronaviruset: Följ utvecklingen live". DN.SE (in Swedish). 2020-02-29. Retrieved 2020-03-17.
- The government inquiry extends the time limit stipulated in the January Agreement from 2021 to 2022
- Nilsson, Mimmi (2020-09-30). "Las-förhandlingar går in i de sista timmarna – parterna i samtal i kväll". SVT Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 2020-10-10.
- Horvatovic, Iva (2020-10-01). "Vad händer nu med las?". SVT Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 2020-10-10.
- "KD och M redo att fälla Stefan Löfven". DN.SE (in Swedish). 2020-10-09. Retrieved 2020-10-10.
- Sennerö, Johan (2020-10-14). "Arbetsmarknadens parter redo att återuppta las-förhandlingar". SVT Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 2020-10-14.
- Lauffs, Tomas (2020-06-01). "Las-utredningen: "Högre krav på ekonomisk anpassningsförmåga"". SVT Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 2020-10-10.
- Thomse, Dante (17 May 2019). "Här är bakgrunden till KU-anmälan mot socialförsäkringsminister Annika Strandhäll (S)". SVT Nyheter.
- "Centern fäller inte Annika Strandhäll". DN.SE (in Swedish). 2019-05-27. Retrieved 2019-05-28.
- "Annika Strandhäll prickas av KU: "Det är allvarligt!"". Aftonbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 2020-07-18.
- Knutson, Mats (2019-12-18). "Januaripartierna överens: Arbetsförmedlingen kvar i hela landet". SVT (in Swedish). Retrieved 2019-12-20.
- Chatterjee, Phelan. "Vänsterpartiet drar tillbaka hot om misstroende". Sveriges Radio (in Swedish). Retrieved 2019-12-20.
- Wicklén, Johan (2019-12-06). "Vänsterpartiet och misstroendeförklaringen – detta har hänt". SVT (in Swedish). Retrieved 2019-12-20.
- "Så ersätter Arbetsförmedlingen de nedlagda kontoren". DN.SE (in Swedish). 2020-02-17. Retrieved 2020-02-27.
Stefan Löfven's First Cabinet
| Cabinet of Sweden