Swedish Center Party Hints at Grand Coalition as Deadlock Weighs

(Bloomberg) -- Sweden’s political deadlock is starting to loosen.

As formal talks enter a second week, Center Party leader Annie Loof on Tuesday let it slip that she’s thinking about alternatives, should her first preference for a center-right Alliance government prove impossible.

“An Alliance government is our main focus,” she said after meeting with speaker Andreas Norlen. “If that doesn’t work there are many different possible solutions between the blocs. Even if I don’t think a grand coalition is the best alternative, it shouldn’t be excluded in a complicated parliamentary situation.’’

Such a grand coalition could include “one or more” of the Alliance parties and the Social Democrats, she said.

That will be welcome news for acting Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who has been staking his claim on continued power in peeling off Loof’s Center Party from the four-party Alliance. His red-green coalition would have a majority with the Center Party. Still, Loof has said she won’t cooperate with the former communist Left Party, a key Lofven ally.

Her comments offer the first sliver of daylight in the political impasse created by the election three weeks ago. The vote saw Lofven’s Social Democratic-led bloc winning 144 seats to the opposition’s 143 seats, leaving both without a majority.

The nationalist Sweden Democrats emerged with 62 seats, effectively blocking any path to power. But the establishment parties have so far refused to work with the Sweden Democrats because of its neo-Nazi roots.

Opposition leader Ulf Kristersson on Tuesday reiterated that his aim was to form an Alliance government and that talks continue to be held within the group. “It’s a gridlocked situation and it’s complicated, but I think it will be possible,” he said.

Lofven said Kristersson has to show how he would form a government that could pass a budget, something the Alliance can’t do on its own.

The Sweden Democrats, meanwhile, are waiting in the wings, advocating for Kristersson’s Moderates and the Christian Democrats to split off from the Alliance.

Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Akesson said on Tuesday that the situation remains unchanged, but that the establishment “parties will have a hard time ignoring us.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.