Sweden’s caretaker leader tapped to present new government

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Swedish caretaker Prime Minister Stefan Lofven moved a step closer to forming a new governing coalition Monday after the country’s parliamentary speaker said Lofven had enough backing to form a two-party Cabinet.

Speaker Andreas Norlen said Lofven told him he can find enough support in the 349-seat Riksdag needed to form a Cabinet. A vote in parliament on his government is set for Wednesday, and Lofven is expected present his government on Friday.

“Stefan Lofven has a solution that can be tolerated by the Riksdag,” Norlen told a news conference. “I will therefore appoint Stefan Lofven as prime ministerial candidate.”

Monday’s development means two groups, the Center Party and the Left Party, will abstain from voting against Lofven and two — his own Social Democrats and the Greens — will vote for him. This gives Lofven 175 lawmakers in the Riksdagen — the exact number of seats needed to secure a majority.

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, 63, lost a June 21 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 The move succeeded because the Left Party, a government ally, had withdrawn its support for Lofven’s administration over proposed legislation to tackle a housing shortage..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 by Norlen with trying to form a new coalition government was the head of Sweden’s center-right opposition Moderates party, Ulf Kristersson. However, he failed and said he was only able to get 174 lawmakers behind him.

Sweden’s next general election is scheduled for Sept. 11, 2022.

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