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Sweden’s Prime Minister Loses No-Confidence Vote

Category: Europe,World

STOCKHOLM — Prime Minister Stefan Lofven of Sweden lost a vote of confidence on Tuesday after an election this month stripped him of his majority and left the country with a hung Parliament, with both main political blocs refusing to cooperate with the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats.

Mr. Lofven, the leader of the Social Democratic Party who has been prime minister for four years, will continue in a caretaker role until the formation of a new government that has the command of Parliament.

Lawmakers voted 204 to 142 against Mr. Lofven, while three abstained, after the election on Sept. 9 in which neither the left-leaning bloc led by the Social Democrats nor the Moderates-led center-right opposition managed to secure a majority. The no-confidence vote was mandatory.

Mr. Lofven says he is still optimistic that he can form a government, but with neither bloc holding a majority and neither willing to work with the Sweden Democrats, the vote means Sweden faces weeks of political uncertainty.

The Social Democrats got 28.3 percent of the vote, while the Moderate Party received 19.8 percent. The Sweden Democrats, which made great strides, picked up 17.5 percent. The center-left controls 144 seats and the center-right holds 143 seats in Parliament, while the Sweden Democrats have 62 lawmakers in the assembly.

Andreas Norlen, a member of the center-right Moderates, was elected on Monday as speaker and was tasked with trying to find a member of Parliament who could command a majority and form a government. Mr. Norlen alone holds the authority to determine which of the party leaders can begin such talks.

Alternatively, one of the blocs could form a minority government, but doing so needs cooperation from at least some members of the opposition, and in many cases requires concessions, too.

Mr. Lofven remained optimistic he could form a governing coalition but stopped short of saying with whom. “I am available for talks,” Lofven said after the vote of no confidence.

Mr. Lofven ruled out having any contacts with the Sweden Democrats, however, saying “time after time, their connections to racist and Nazi organizations have been exposed.”


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