Swedish Left Party threatens to try to oust PM over rent controls

FILE PHOTO: Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven addresses a news conference, after parliament passed a bill giving the government the temporary power to adopt new measures to slow the COVID-19 pandemic, in Stockhom, Sweden January 8, 2021. Fredrik Sandberg/TT News Agency/via REUTERS/File Photo

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden's Left Party said on Tuesday it would seek support from the main opposition to oust Prime Minister Stefan Lofven if the government did not drop or change plans for the abolition of rent controls on new-build properties within 48 hours.

The Left Party is not part of the government, but the minority coalition of the Social Democrats and Greens needs its backing to stay in power if the rest of the opposition is united.

"Our support will cease to exist if the government implements any proposals for market rents or free rent setting," Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar told a news conference. "Stefan Lofven has 48 hours to act."

Dadgostar said Lofven could either drop the plans or bring in the Tenants Association to help reshape the planned legislation.

The Left Party would need the support of at least one other party to force a vote of no-confidence. Only the right-wing, populist Sweden Democrats have indicated they would be willing to join such a move.

The Left has said previously that it would not work with the Sweden Democrats, a party with roots in the far-right.

The main centre-right opposition Moderates and Christian Democrats support easing rent controls.

Even if a no-confidence vote is held, it is unclear whether Lofven would be ousted.

Sweden is due to hold a parliamentary election next year. Forcing the installation of a caretaker government could backfire on opposition parties if voters see potential political chaos as undermining the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The prospect of being forced to vote alongside the Sweden Democrats could also force a last-minute change of heart by the Left Party.

A vote of no-confidence would require a majority in the 349-seat parliament to pass.

(Reporting by Simon Johnson and Johan Ahlander, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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