Swedish police get budget boost as gang crime tops election worries

Sweden's minority coalition said on Wednesday its 2022 budget will boost spending on fighting crime as it looks to defuse voter anger over a wave of shootings that has put law and order at the top of the agenda ahead of a general election next year.

More than 35 people have been killed this year in gang-related violence, according to police, with shooting incidents an almost daily occurrence in major cities such as Stockholm, Malmo and Gothenburg.

The Social Democrat-Green government said it would give police and criminal justice services an extra 2.5 billion Swedish crowns ($290 million) - on top of more than 8 billion in extra money allocated in recent years - to tackle gang crime.

The extra resources have begun to produce results, but more needs to be done, Interior Minister Mikael Damberg told a news conference.

The budget, to be published on Sept. 20, sets out the Social Democrat's stall for voters ahead of an election due in September next year, focusing on extending the recovery from the pandemic, rebuilding the welfare state and accelerating the shift to a fossil fuel-free economy.

Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson, the favourite to take over as prime minister when Social Democrat colleague Stefan Lofven steps down in November - has promised 74 billion crowns in extra spending, aiming to persuade voters to give her party a third straight term in office.'

Despite the government lacking a majority in parliament, the budget looks like passing in December's vote after the Sweden Democrats said they would not back an alternative finance bill, put forward by a combined opposition.

Sweden's budget rules mean the finance bill with the largest backing is accepted. It does not need majority support.

The centre-left bloc including the Left and Centre parties, lags the right-leaning opposition in polls ahead of next year's election.

($1 = 8.5857 Swedish crowns)

(Reporting by Simon Johnson; editing by Niklas Pollard)

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