Sweden’s Lofven inches closer to forming new government

Sweden's caretaker PM Stefan Lofven moved a step closer to forming a new governing coalition after the country’s parliamentary speaker Andreas Norlen said he had enough backing, “Stefan Lofven has a solution that can be tolerated by the Riksdag,” Norlen told a news conference. “I will therefore appoint him as PM candidate.”

The development means two groups, the Centre Party and the Left Party, will abstain from voting against Lofven, while two - his own Social Democrats and the Greens - will vote for him, giving Lofven 175 lawmakers in the Riksdagen - the exact number of seats needed to secure a majority, according to the AP. A vote in parliament is set for Wednesday, with Lofven expected present his government on Friday.

In Sweden, prime ministers can govern as long as there is no majority against them. Neither the Centrists nor the Left Party are part of the caretaker government, but they have been supporting it.

Lofven lost a 21 June no-confidence vote called by the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats party. The move succeeded because the Left Party, a government ally, had withdrawn its support for Lofven’s administration over proposed legislation to tackle a housing shortage..

Until then, Lofven headed a minority government made up of a coalition between the Social Democratic and the Greens. His party holds 100 seats out of 349 in parliament. Lofven, who has served as Sweden’s head of government since 2014, remains caretaker prime minister until a new government is established.

Instead of calling an early election, as the Swedish Constitution allows him to, Lofven opted for the coalition-building process that is overseen by Norlen. The first to be tasked with trying to form a new coalition government, the head of Sweden’s centre-right opposition Moderates party, Ulf Kristersson, failed to get enough support. Sweden’s next general election is scheduled for September 2022.

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