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article imageSwedish conservative leader tasked with forming government

By AFP     Oct 2, 2018 in World

The speaker of the Swedish parliament on Tuesday asked the leader of the conservative Moderates party to try to form a government, a major challenge in the country's fragmented political landscape.

"I've decided to give Ulf Kristersson the mandate to try and form a government that is tolerated by the parliament," Andreas Norlen told a news conference in Stockholm.

"He will have to report this mission to me in two weeks, with a milestone in a week," Norlen added.

The September 9 elections, held after four years of centre-left rule, led to neither main political bloc winning a majority, making it difficult to build a stable coalition.

Outgoing prime minister Stefan Lofven's Social Democrats remained the nation's largest party and its red-green coalition won one more seat than the centre-right bloc.

But Lofven was ousted by parliament last week in a vote of no confidence by the centre-right bloc and the far-right Sweden Democrats.

The vote leaves Moderates leader Ulf Kristersson in the driving seat of negotiations as he tries to get his party, the second largest in parliament and a member of the centre-right four party Alliance, into government.

"I'm a speaker of the parliament, not a magician," Norlen warned, ahead of Kristersson's daunting task.

Sweden has a system of "negative parliamentarism", meaning it is possible for a cabinet to govern without majority support as long as a majority of lawmakers is not against it.

Meanwhile Lofven has reiterated that the Social Democrats, who declared victory in the election, will not function as a "junior party" to a right-wing government.

The Sweden Democrats, a nationalist and anti-immigration party which won more than 17 percent of the votes, has demanded influence over policies in exchange for support.

The leaders of the Centre party and the Liberals -- members of the Alliance -- have so far rejected any cooperation with the Sweden Democrats.

Kristersson has also, so far, ruled out appealing for far-right support despite mounting pressure from within the Moderates.

"If everyone remains stuck in their occupied positions then we'll never have a government," he said, calling on all parties to act responsibly.

"I will first speak with the Alliance but also with the Social Democrats and Stefan Lofven."

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