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article imageSwedish conservative to try again to form government

By Pia OHLIN (AFP)     Nov 5, 2018 in World

The leader of Sweden's conservative Moderates party will get a second chance to try to form a government, the speaker of parliament said Monday, two months after elections produced political deadlock.

Ulf Kristersson's Moderates are part of the centre-right four-party Alliance which received marginally fewer votes on September 9 than the previous governing centre-left coalition.

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

Kristersson failed in his first bid to form a government on October 14, and outgoing Prime Minister Stefan Lofven then said he had also failed on October 29.

In a bid to force the parties to reach an agreement, speaker Andreas Norlen said he would propose Kristersson to parliament as a candidate for prime minister next week, pushing the issue to a vote for the first time since efforts began to form a government.

"It's not clear in advance whether the various parties are going to accept Ulf Kristersson as prime minister," Norlen told reporters.

But he stressed "the process must move forward, the dynamics between the parties have to change. The fruitless talks must come to an end."

The date for parliament's vote is not yet known, but Norlen said November 14 was a possibility.

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 Sweden must hold new elections.

Nominating Kristersson is Norlen's first attempt.

- Far-right pressure -

Kristersson is under pressure from some sections of the Moderates and from Alliance partner the Christian Democrats to accept support from the far-right Sweden Democrats to obtain a majority, but Kristersson has so far ruled that out.

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

The far-right party has demanded influence over government policy in exchange for its support. But two other Alliance members, the Liberals and Centre Party, are vehemently opposed to that idea.

Liberal leader Jan Bjorklund told TV4 news channel his party would reject Kristersson as prime minister if the Alliance had to be dependent on the Sweden Democrats' support, even passively.

Kristersson said he nonetheless remained hopeful the Liberals and Centre Party would join him in a government.

"The parties have to come together now and make a decision so this country can get a new government," he said.

"I hope the Centre and Liberals want to be important parts of a new government."

Kristersson reiterated he would not negotiate with the Sweden Democrats, implying he was ready to accept their passive support in parliament.

But the far-right responded that it would not support him in next week's vote if it was not given political influence.

Lofven's Social Democrats, who have governed since 2014 with the Greens and with the informal support of the Left, have meanwhile opened the door for a cross-bloc cooperation, but only if he retains the post of prime minister.

The Alliance and Sweden Democrats, boasting a mathematical majority in parliament, have rejected that option.

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