The center-right Swedish government is facing its toughest parliamentary challenge yet, since its election victory in September of 2022. In response to a pending legislative proposal to outlaw panhandling nationally, Anna Starbrink, a member of the Riksdag for the Liberal Party, has declared her intent to vote no. The governing coalition, which includes Ms. Starbrink’s party, has a slim three-seat majority.
MSN Sweden reports that her disagreement with the coalition also covers other policy issues:
Member of the Riksdag Anna Starbrink (L) persists in her intent to vote no on a coming proposal of a national ban on panhandling, and to limit the right [of patients] to interpreters in the health care system.
A ban on panhandling has been debated in Sweden for several years, and is an issue that the Swedish Democrats have been pushing for in parliament since at least 2016. The main argument for the prohibition is that panhandling encourages human trafficking, where vulnerable individuals are moved from other countries to Sweden and forced to beg for money on behalf of the trafficking network.
A small number of municipalities have enacted local bans on panhandling. In 2019, public broadcaster Sveriges Radio reported that the ban in the city of Sölvesborg had eliminated the practice within its city limits.
According to the policy platform for the governing coalition, the so-called Tidö agreement, the center-right government shall formally appoint an investigative committee to explore legislation with the intent to ban panhandling. The legislative process would have to begin with the constitution of the committee, a step that Ms. Starbrink has declared her opposition to. An actual ban, adding panhandling to the Swedish criminal code, would only be proposed in parliament after the committee has delivered its report.