Sweden’s government survived a no-confidence vote on Tuesday with the help of a lawmaker whose demands for support for Kurds in Northern Syria could complicate its attempts to join NATO.
Turkey is blocking both Sweden and Finland’s hopes of quick accession to the NATO military alliance after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, arguing both countries harbour people linked to Kurdish groups it deems terrorists.
Independent member of parliament Amineh Kakabaveh, who is of Iranian Kurdish descent, abstained from voting on the motion brought by the centre-right opposition against Justice Minister Morgan Johansson over rising gang crime.
Without Kakabaveh’s vote, the no-confidence motion won the support of only 174 members of parliament, one short of the 175 needed to pass.
Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson had said her Social Democrat minority government would resign if her minister was voted out.
Sweden has grappled with rising gang violence in recent years, which the opposition blame on generous immigration policies and lax crime prevention under the Social Democrats.
So far this year, at least 30 people have been shot dead and in the past two decades Sweden has gone from having among the lowest number of deadly shootings per capita in Europe to among the highest.
Kakabaveh, herself a former Kurdish peshmerga fighter, told Reuters on Friday she would help the government if it affirmed that “we support the Kurds and people from those organizations coming to Sweden are not terrorists.”
On Tuesday in parliament, Kakabaveh criticized Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan for opposing Sweden’s candidacy to NATO and pressuring Stockholm into adapting Sweden’s freedom of speech and freedom of assembly to his demands.
Addressing her fellow lawmakers, she said: “It is in this chamber that Swedish laws are decided, not in Ankara.”
Kakabaveh previously rescued Andersson in November when Sweden’s first woman prime minister was forced to briefly resign after just one day in office.
Andersson promised then that Sweden would deepen its co-operation with the Syrian Democratic Union Party, a Kurdish group. Turkey considers the party to be part of the PKK, which Sweden designates a terrorist organization.
The PKK has been waging an insurgency in Turkey since 1984 in which more than 40,000 people have been killed.
Sweden disagrees the Syrian party, or several other Kurdish groups, are part of the PKK. Andersson’s Social Democrats at the time said it was “unacceptable” that sympathizers of the Syrian party be considered terrorists.
“The deal which is from November last year is still valid,” Social Democrat party secretary Tobias Baudin told news agency TT on Tuesday.
The Social Democrats did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Sweden is due to hold a general election in September.
Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.