Sweden’s centre-right opposition and the far-right have ousted Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in a vote of no-confidence, after September’s election delivered a hung parliament.
The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, with 62 seats and shunned by all parties since entering parliament in 2010, backed the Alliance in Tuesday’s vote – an obligatory test of the prime minister’s parliamentary support after an election.
A total of 204 of 349 members of parliament voted against Lofven, while 142 voted in favour of him.
The speaker of parliament, Andreas Norlen, is now charged with beginning talks with party leaders to find a new candidate for prime minister.
Lofven – the leader of the Social Democratic Party who has been prime minister for four years – said after the vote that he would “stay on as leader of a caretaker government”, and underlined that he was still prepared to form a new government.
“I will work for a solution, Sweden needs a government,” he said.
Norlen is widely expected to task Ulf Kristersson, the head of the opposition Alliance coalition, with the job, but the Alliance does not hold a majority in parliament and has so far ruled out any collaboration with the Sweden Democrats.
Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Akesson repeated on Tuesday his party wanted a say in policy as the price of supporting a new government.
“We will do everything in our power to stop any attempt to form a government, do everything to bring down every government, which does not give us a reasonable influence in proportion to our electoral support,” Akesson said.
The speaker has four chances to propose a candidate for prime minister in parliament, but there is no fixed deadline. If none of the proposals are approved, fresh elections must be held within three months.
With a new vote unlikely to change the situation much, some kind of compromise is likely to be thrashed out.
A number of party combinations have been suggested, but all would have a heavy political cost and a deal is could take weeks.