Sweden’s prime minister, Stefan Löfven, has announced he is resigning after losing a confidence vote last week, as he called on the country’s parliament to try to form a new government instead of holding an early election.
Löfven, who has been prime minister since 2014 and heads the Social Democratic party, became the first Swedish leader to lose a confidence vote in parliament. He did not call for an early election as the Swedish constitution allows him to. He is formally stepping down but will continue in a caretaker role until a new government can be formed.
“A snap election is not what is best for Sweden,” Löfven said on Monday. “The speaker will now begin work on proposing a prime minister who can be tolerated by the Riksdag [the assembly]. The government will continue to govern the country for now but as the caretaking government.”
The speaker, Andreas Norlén, will ask party leaders who may be able to form a government. He alone decides who can begin these talks.
It is expected that Löfven, who heads Sweden’s largest party with 100 of Riksdagen’s 349 seats, will start the talks. His cabinet, a Social Democratic-Green coalition, is a minority government that has relied on votes from the small Left party to pass laws.
The no-confidence motion against Löfven was called by the nationalist Sweden Democrats party but it ultimately succeeded because the Left party withdrew its support for the government over proposed legislation to tackle a housing shortage. Lawmakers voted 181-109 against Löfven, with 51 abstentions.
The political situation in Sweden appears deadlocked. Löfven has been able to get the Left party back as an ally but the small Liberals, which earlier supported the Social Democratic-led government, now want a centre-right government. The Conservatives still want Löfven at the helm but do not want to make deals with the Sweden Democrats or the Left Party.
In the centre-right bloc, the Moderates, Sweden’s second-largest party, wants its leader, Ulf Kristersson, as prime minister.
The last time coalition talks took place in Sweden was following the 2018 election that created a deadlocked parliament. It took four months of negotiations to produce a government that Löfven presented in January 2019.
Norlén told the Swedish broadcaster SVT that the different parties now knew where the others stood and promised that government formation talks would be faster this time.
In the present assembly, the left-leaning side and the centre-right bloc each have about 40% of the vote. None of the sides want to cooperate with the Sweden Democrats, a rightwing populist party that is considered extreme.
In Sweden, the next general election will be held on 11 September 2022.
Löfven said he was ready to head a government if that was what parliament wanted. “My party is ready to shoulder the responsibility to continue to lead our country forward together with other constructive forces,” he said.