Kurdish MP rescues Swedish government with swipe at Turkey

Kingmaker Amineh Kakabeveh wins assurances Sweden will not cave to Turkish President Erdogan

Amineh Kakabaveh could bring down the Swedish government if she backs a no-confidence motion against a minister. Photo: Bloomberg
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Sweden's government was saved from political downfall on Tuesday after promising a Kurdish-born MP that it would not cave to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a stand-off over Nato membership.

Independent MP Amineh Kakabaveh, the kingmaker in a knife-edge confidence vote, rescued ministers by abstaining but issued a warning in parliament: "It is in this hall that Sweden's laws should be enacted, not in Ankara".

Her abstention meant the opposition fell one vote short of passing a no-confidence motion in Justice Minister Morgan Johansson. Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson had said the whole government would resign if it passed.

Ms Kakabaveh announced her decision after Ms Andersson's Social Democrats promised her that a deal made last year to back a Kurdish party in exchange for her support would not be watered down.

That issue has taken on an international dimension as Mr Erdogan threatens to hold up Sweden and Finland’s applications to join Nato, over what he describes as their support for Kurdish terrorists.

Both Nordic countries turned their back on decades of military neutrality to submit applications for Nato last month, seeking protection from Russian aggression after the invasion of Ukraine.

But Turkey’s objections have dashed hopes of a quick accession process, with Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg seeking to broker an agreement between the two sides.

Ms Andersson's government has no majority in the Swedish parliament, the Riksdag. Reuters

Ms Kakabaveh, who is of Iranian Kurdish origin, has sought assurances that the government will not cave in to Turkish demands — making her a focal point in Swedish politics.

Last year she agreed to support Ms Andersson’s government in exchange for deeper co-operation between her Social Democrats and a Kurdish party in Syria, the PYD, and wider solidarity with Kurds.

The centre-right opposition controls 174 seats in parliament, one short of the majority needed to oust the government, making her the kingmaker in any confidence vote.

Turkey’s ambassador to Sweden was quoted last month as saying that Ms Kakabaveh should be extradited, although he later said the report was a misunderstanding.

Tobias Baudin, the secretary of Sweden’s Social Democrats, told news agency TT that nothing had changed in the party’s agreement with Ms Kakabaveh last year.

The motion against Mr Johansson was launched by right-wing MPs who accuse him of failing to get a grip on rising gang violence in Sweden, where gun deaths have steadily risen over the past decade.

“We have reached a point where the single most important crime policy measure is to give Morgan Johansson an early retirement," said MP Henrik Vinge from the far-right Sweden Democrats.

Ms Andersson said the opposition ploy was “completely irresponsible” and could “create a situation with a political mess and insecurity” at a sensitive time for the country.

Updated: June 07, 2022, 1:01 PM