Moderate leader Kristersson asked to form new Swedish government

·2-min read
Ulf Kristersson, leader of Sweden's Moderate Party speaks in Stockholm

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -Sweden's parliamentary speaker asked Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson on Tuesday to try to garner enough support to form a government.

Social Democrat Prime Minister Stefan Lofven resigned on Monday after losing a no-confidence vote last week, handing the speaker the job of finding a candidate for prime minister who could for a government that would pass a vote in parliament.

The Moderate Party is the biggest opposition party in parliament.

"Ulf Kristersson has the task of looking into the options," parliament speaker Andreas Norlen told a news conference. "He is leader of the biggest party in the group that ousted Lofven. It is reasonable that he is given a chance to see if he can form a government."

Kristersson is also supported by the Christian Democrats, Liberals and Sweden Democrats, but together, the parties can count on only 174 votes in the 349-seat parliament.

"This means that in the coming days I will focus completely on the important talks that will now be held with the other parties in Sweden who also want a change of power, parties that put the political issues before the political game," Kristersson wrote on Instagram.

If no one from Lofven's Social Democrats, the Greens - the junior party in Lofven's minority coalition - the Centre and the Left Party is willing to support Kristersson, he will not be able to secure parliament's backing as a majority would be against him.

Kristersson and his allies will hope to persuade at least one member of parliament to break ranks so that he can be elected.

The centre-right split over whether to seek a political accord with them after the last election in 2018, when the Centre and Liberals choosing to support their former rivals rather than give the Sweden Democrats a chance to influence policy.

The Sweden Democrats were once shunned by other parties because of their roots in the white-supremacist fringe and hard-line anti-immigration policies but its leader, Jimmie Akesson, has dragged it into the mainstream.

The Liberals have switched sides again and the centre-left and centre-right blocs are now evenly balanced in parliament. [L5N2OA1MC] [L5N2OA1AN]

The speaker said Kristersson would have to report his progress at the latest on Friday and that, if he says he can form a government the speaker aimed to hold a vote in parliament next week.

(Reporting by Johan Ahlander; Editing by Simon Johnson and)