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Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson. Picture: MICHELE TANTUSSI/REUTERS
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson. Picture: MICHELE TANTUSSI/REUTERS

Sweden’s prime minister raised the stakes in a row with the domestic opposition, potentially hampering the Nordic nation’s efforts to overcome a Turkish veto to joining the Nato alliance.

Magdalena Andersson threatened to resign if her justice minister loses a confidence vote in parliament, due on June 7, turning a lawmaker with Kurdish background into a kingmaker as the opposition lacks just one vote for the initiative to pass.

The move comes as opposition parties, which are trailing in polls, seek to refocus politics on domestic issues from the Nato debate ahead of general elections in September. If they manage to oust the minister and Andersson resigns, their chance of replacing her remains slim, meaning she could then be reappointed.

Yet the domestic quarrel comes just as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stalled Sweden and Finland’s bids to enter Nato , demanding that the countries — especially Sweden — do more to clamp down on Kurdish groups that Turkey views as terrorists.


Having Amineh Kakabaveh, a non-affiliated member of the legislature with Kurdish background, again emerging as kingmaker for Andersson is likely to irk Turkey even further. The country’s ambassador to Sweden, Hakki Emre Yunt, was last month cited as saying in an interview with Swedish newswire TT that Sweden should extradite Kakabaveh “if possible.”

In a later interview with Swedish Radio, he called the report a misunderstanding, as Turkey has made no such demand and can’t request an extradition of Kakabaveh, who hails from Iran and has never been a Turkish citizen.

Kakabaveh already had a key role last year in the premier’s appointment, and in exchange for the support, agreed with Andersson’s party to expand co-operation with a Kurdish group, Syrian PYD.  

“As long as our agreement holds, I will not support a motion of no confidence,” Kakabaveh said in an interview on Thursday. On Friday she told Swedish Radio that she “understands” that “this is not a great time for another government crisis.”

Andersson on Friday underscored her party “always stands by agreements no matter what.”

The confidence vote in justice minister Morgan Johansson stems from dissatisfaction with his response to a wave of crime and deadly gang shootings that have engulfed Swedish suburbs. Andersson has slammed the opposition initiative, calling it dangerous political brinkmanship.

“We have a war in our immediate vicinity and our Nato application is in a sensitive phase,” she said on Friday. “Playing political games in that situation is not the way to take responsibility for the country.”

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com


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