Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven replaced two ministers on Thursday in a scandal over the leaking of sensitive data, trying to avoid the more drastic option of calling an early election.
Faced with a political crisis over a botched IT outsourcing deal, Lofven sacrificed his interior and infrastructure ministers rather than hold a snap vote more than a year ahead of schedule.
But he retained his defence minister, defying opposition parties who had pressed for the removal of all three ministers.
“I have to take responsibility for the country. It wouldn’t serve Sweden to throw the country into a political crisis,” Lofven told a news conference, citing the many challenges Sweden and the European Union were facing, including Brexit.
The opposition Christian Democrats and far-right Sweden Democrats said, however, they would press ahead with a no confidence vote in Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist.
If they win that vote, it could yet bring down Lofven’s minority left-green government and force him to resign or call an early election.
“I will handle that if and when it happens,” Lofven said, referring to the confidence motion, saying the opposition should think hard about going ahead with it.
“It is important for the members of parliament that are going to push the button … that this is the responsibility they have taken upon themselves.”
The parties’ options are constrained by the fact that the nationalist, anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats have held the balance of power in parliament since 2010. Other parties refuse to work with them, but are unable to form majority governments without them.