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article imageSwedish conservative loses bid to form government

By AFP     Nov 14, 2018 in Politics

The leader of Sweden's conservative Moderates party failed Wednesday in a bid to form a government as parliament rejected his nomination for prime minister, after elections produced political deadlock.

Lawmakers voted 195 to 154 against the speaker's nomination of Ulf Kristersson to head a government comprising his Moderates party and the Christian Democrats.

The rejection -- the first time in modern history that Sweden's parliament has spurned a speaker's prime ministerial candidate -- was widely expected.

Kristersson leads the four-party Alliance coalition which received marginally fewer votes on September 9 than the previous governing centre-left coalition.

Both blocs have struggled to build a majority after refusing to make a deal with the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, which has roots in the neo-Nazi movement.

The far-right party, which has demanded a tightening of migration policy in exchange for their support, voted for Kristersson on Wednesday.

But two of his coalition partners, the Centre and the Liberals who both vehemently oppose giving the far-right any influence, voted against him in order to shut out the Sweden Democrats.

"Today's vote is not about Ulf Kristersson as prime minister. It's about not giving the Sweden Democrats decisive influence," Centre Party leader Annie Loof told parliament just before the vote.

The Sweden Democrats, which won 17.6 percent of votes in the election and are the third-biggest party, have long been shunned by all mainstream parties.

"We expect concessions proportionate to our size. It's a very pragmatic attitude," Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Akesson said.

Kristersson, 54, told reporters he was "not surprised" by Wednesday's outcome, which he called "a shame" and "a lost opportunity".

He said the split in the Alliance was "the most serious crisis ... I've experienced in my years in politics".

Speaker of parliament Andreas Norlen told reporters he would summon all party leaders to individual consultations on Thursday to find a way forward.

In Sweden, the speaker has four attempts to task a candidate to form a government that parliament will accept. If all four attempts fail then new elections must be held.

Swedish media speculated that outgoing Social Democratic Prime Minister Stefan Lofven could be asked to try to form a government, or Annie Loof, who has called for a cross-bloc cooperation.

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