Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven called the country’s first snap election in decades after a fringe populist party derailed his efforts to gather support for his first budget proposal. The decision, announced Wednesday, marks a rare moment of political drama in a country long known for the stability of its politics and the willingness of opposition lawmakers to work together to find solutions. The election, which is scheduled to be held March 22, would be Sweden’s first snap election since 1958. A decision the day before by the opposition, anti-immigration Sweden Democrats to back an alternative center-right budget plan effectively doomed the Social Democrat prime minister’s budget proposal, leaving him with a spending plan penned by political foes.
Mr. Lofven had previously said he wouldn’t work from such a plan, so he called a new election to try to secure a stronger mandate for his policies. The prime minister, who took the post just two months ago, made the announcement after a parliamentary budget debate on Wednesday.
He said he saw little point in reworking and resubmitting his budget proposal, after center-right opposition leaders signaled at a hastily called meeting late Tuesday that they weren’t interested in propping up Mr. Lofven’s center-left government. “No more discussions,” the prime minister told journalists at a news conference. “The time for talking has passed.”