Stefan Lofven, Sweden’s prime minister, listens as U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Sweden Moves Closer to New Election as Lofven Loses PM Vote

(Bloomberg) -- Social Democratic leader Stefan Lofven lost a second crucial vote in parliament, putting Sweden a step closer to a snap vote as the nation struggles to find a way out of an impasse following September’s election.

Lofven was rejected by a majority as the four-party center-right opposition and the nationalist Sweden Democrats blocked him in a prime minister vote. He will remain as acting premier, a position he has held since he was ousted in a confidence vote in late September.

Sweden Moves Closer to New Election as Lofven Loses PM Vote

Echoing broader global political currents, Sweden’s establishment is struggling to find common ground after nationalists made big gains in the election. Friday’s vote was part of plan by the speaker of parliament to put pressure on lawmakers to find bipartisan compromise. The two main political blocs both failed to win a majority in the election, with the Social Democrats posting their worst result in a century.

The pendulum could now swing back to opposition leader Ulf Kristersson, who also last month failed to win majority for a narrow conservative two-party government. Pressure is growing on politicians to find a solution and avoid a new election that will be held after four prime minister votes.

The speaker of parliament, Andreas Norlen, said in a statement Friday that he will now resume “informal” talks with the party leaders over the weekend and will come back with the next step at the beginning of next week. He also announced he will meet with election authorities to start preparations should an election become necessary.

“The parties in parliament are driving Sweden closer to a new election,” he said. “I regret this and I will do everything I can to avoid one, but I won’t stand in the way if the parties choose this instead of acting in a way that would give Sweden a new government.”

Sweden Moves Closer to New Election as Lofven Loses PM Vote

Coalition talks between Lofven and key opposition parties collapsed earlier this week after the Center Party rejected forming a government with the Social Democrats amid disagreements on labor regulations and taxes.

Lofven wasn’t even present at the vote since he’s attending a European Union summit. Nationalist leader Jimmie Akesson was also absent, having traveled to Thailand on holiday with his family.

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