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article imageSwedish centre-right wins speaker vote

By AFP     Sep 24, 2018 in World

Sweden's centre-right parties on Monday saw their candidate elected speaker of parliament on Monday, apparently thanks to the support of the far-right, after the country's September 9 legislative elections left neither bloc with a majority.

The election of the speaker came a day before another crucial vote in parliament, the Riksdag, when Social Democratic Prime Minister Stefan Lofven is expected to lose a confidence motion.

Lofven is expected to carry on as caretaker prime minister until a new head of government is in place, a process that could take several weeks given Sweden's splintered political landscape.

The election of the speaker is important as he designates the party leader seen as most capable of forming the next government.

Andreas Norlen of the conservative Moderates Party was elected speaker with 203 of 349 votes, defeating the Social Democratic candidate.

The vote was anonymous but the far-right anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, who hold 62 seats in the new parliament, had indicated they would support the Moderates candidate -- clearly hoping to get something in exchange.

"If the Sweden Democrats want to keep their election promises, they're going to demand influence sooner or later," Dagens Nyheter daily wrote on Monday.

The centre-left bloc -- comprising the Social Democrats and the Greens, who have ruled together with the informal support of the Left Party since 2014 -- hold 144 seats in the new parliament, just one more than the opposition centre-right Alliance, made up of four parties.

Neither bloc holds an absolute majority and it remains unclear what the country's next government could look like.

After the expected ouster of Lofven, the speaker is likely to task Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson with forming a new government.

But in order to pass legislation through parliament, some MPs on the right wing would like the Alliance to cooperate with the Sweden Democrats, now the country's third-biggest party.

For two of the four Alliance parties --the Centre and Liberals -- that option is unacceptable.

They have said they would quit the Alliance if the Moderates and Christian Democrats were to negotiate a deal -- for example on immigration -- with the far-right in exchange for their support.

Another alternative would be for the Alliance to reach a compromise with the Social Democrats on big political issues, such as the autumn budget.

"If an Alliance government is to take power in this current situation, cross-bloc support is needed... for economic policies as well as reforms," Centre Party leader Annie Loof said Monday.

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