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Alliance takes one step towards majority

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Alliance takes one step towards majority
16:05 CEST+02:00
Sweden's governing Alliance coalition has preliminarily increased its number of seats in the Riksdag to 173, two short of an overall majority, as the recount of advance and overseas ballots continued on Wednesday afternoon.

The Green Party is reported to have claimed a permanent constituency seat from the Social Democrats in Dalarna, meaning that the Centre party has claimed an adjustment seat from the Green Party, according to Sweden's complex voting system.

The change remains preliminary and the final results are expected late Wednesday or early Thursday, but experts believe that the Alliance could still retain a majority in parliament if uncounted ballots cast abroad swing their way.

"Nothing has been decided yet. It is very exciting," political scientist Olle Folke told the Expressen daily.

Reinfeldt's four-party coalition of the centre-right was narrowly re-elected following Sunday's polls, but fell three seats short of a majority in the 349-seat parliament.

However, fewer than 300 votes out of the some 60,000 cast by Swedes living abroad could save Reinfeldt's government and limit the influence of the far-right on a hung parliament.

Svante Linusson, a mathematician at Stockholm's Royal Institute of Technology, agreed the final count could "theoretically" hand Reinfeldt a majority.

"If the late votes land in a certain way, theoretically at least, the (opposition) Social Democrats could lose three seats," he told AFP.

The government minority, he explained, could simply be the result of Sweden's complex electoral system, where seats in parliament are based on the number of mandates each party wins regionally.

"The system is built on local mandates, and in that sense the Social Democrats have been very lucky," Linusson said, pointing out that with only a small number of extra votes for the centre-right in three Swedish regions, the leftwing party will lose its mandates there.

Those few votes are crucial for Reinfeldt as he has to deal with the presence in the Riksdag of 20 members from the far-right, anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats, who entered parliament for the first time by obtaining 5.7 percent of votes.

Reinfeldt has repeated he would not work with the Sweden Democrats, and stressed on Monday he did not consider the battle for a majority lost, insisting "we must wait for the final election result."

Since these remarks to the press, Reinfeldt has kept mum, as have government ministers and leading opposition figures, adding to the political suspense.

There was speculation at the weekend and on Monday that the prime minister

could ask the Green Party, which soared in the polls to become Sweden's third

largest with 25 seats, to join the government in order to block the far-right's influence.

But the Greens rebuffed Reinfeldt before he had even made an official invitation, with party co-leader Maria Wetterstrand telling reporters Sunday that "it would be very difficult for us after this campaign to look our voters in the eyes and say we have agreed to cooperate with this government."

The other Green co-chair, Peter Eriksson, called on Reinfeldt to hold talks with all the leftwing parties, including the Social Democrats and the formerly communist Left Party.

On Wednesday, media reported that several political parties wanted to restructure parliament, namely by shifting the make-up of parliamentary committees, to reduce the influence of the 20 far-right MPs.

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