Swedish Blocs Headed for a Showdown on First Day in Parliament

(Bloomberg) -- Sweden’s two blocs set up a showdown over who will be speaker of parliament as they presented competing candidates for the job.

The opposition Alliance first on Friday proposed the Moderate Party’s Andreas Norlen to become new speaker, rejecting a plea for across-the-aisle talks as it seeks to unseat Prime Minister Stefan Lofven. The Social Democrats countered with their own pick, Asa Lindestam.

The back-and-forth comes after Lofven called for broad talks on deciding on a new speaker, in part to deny the nationalist Sweden Democrats influence. The blocs are now poised for a confrontation when parliament convenes on Monday. The new speaker will play a key role in deciding on who will get the first crack at forming a government and will also decide on the timing of a confidence vote in Lofven.

“We regret that we didn’t manage to reach a cross-bloc agreement,” Anders Ygeman, the Social Democrats group leader in parliament, said at a press conference. Lindestam is from the biggest party in the biggest bloc and according to traditions that go back 40 years she should have been given full support, he said.

The Alliance will need backing from the Sweden Democrats to get its candidate past, while the nationalist could abstain from voting and the Social Democrats would prevail. The vote for speaker could be a closed ballot, meaning it will be harder to keep party discipline.

The Alliance also said Friday that it will abstain from voting on the nationalist’s candidate for second deputy speaker, Bjorn Soder.

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