Swedish Opposition Fails to Form Government Amid Growing Rancor
(Bloomberg) -- The leader of Sweden’s four-party opposition Alliance abandoned his attempt to form a government as the Nordic nation enters its second month of political turbulence following September’s inconclusive election.
Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson on Sunday informed the speaker of parliament that he saw no viable way to form a working coalition after almost two weeks of talks with his center-right opposition colleagues and the Social Democrats.
“I have done everything I can to form a government that stands for the Alliance’s politics,” he said at a press conference at parliament.
The failure comes amid deep divisions in the Alliance over whether to seek support from the nationalist Sweden Democrats to grab power after four years of Social Democratic rule. The leaders of the Center and Liberal parties on Saturday rejected Kristersson’s plan for a smaller right-wing coalition and have steadfastly refused any cooperation with the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats.
The difficulties could open the door for acting Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to lure over the smaller Alliance parties to his coalition, something he has been trying to do over the past four years.
After accepting that Kristersson saw no way out of the impasse, speaker Andreas Norlen on Sunday said he would call in party leaders for talks on Monday to judge how to proceed.
The process will neither be “forced” or “delayed,” Norlen said. “It’s probably reasonable to think that another person will get the job” to form a government, he said.
Sweden is in gridlock after an election that saw Lofven’s Social Democratic bloc hold on to just a one seat lead over the Alliance. The nationalists won 62 seats in the 349-member parliament, meaning that none of the two traditional blocs have a clear path to power without reaching out across the aisle or relying on support from the Sweden Democrats.
The Center Party and the Liberals on Saturday reiterated that they would prefer an Alliance government based on support from the Social Democrats and/or the Green Party.
Lofven has been clear that he will not allow his Social Democrats to act as a support party.
Kristersson on Sunday again ruled out a grand coalition with Lofven, saying such a constellation is only a possibility during war or a national crisis.
The talks have no set end but any new government will need to be voted through parliament and that can only happen four times before a new election is called. Sweden is currently being run by a care-taker government headed by the Social Democrats.
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