What next for Sweden amid record-long government talks?

What next for Sweden amid record-long government talks?
Stefan Löfven after meeting parliament speaker Andreas Norlén on Monday. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT
Social Democrats leader Stefan Löfven has not yet managed to form a new government, he said at a press conference on Monday.

Sweden has never waited so long for a government to be formed before.

After an inconclusive election left neither of the two main blocs with a majority, Löfven was ousted from his role as prime minister in a confidence vote, but still leads a caretaker government.

After the election of new parliamentary speakers, centre-right Moderates leader Ulf Kristersson was given two weeks to try to form a government, but failed, and the task was passed to Löfven.

Now his two-week time period is up, and the centre-left leader said after meeting speaker Andreas Norlén on Monday morning that he too had failed. He told journalists that talks with fellow party leaders had been “constructive” and “honest” but that no one had changed their position.

One looming obstacle on the horizon is Sweden's 2019 budget, a proposal for which must be put forward to parliament by November 15th. A caretaker government has almost the same powers as a normal government, but is not meant to make any major radical or partisan decisions – which would normally include those part of budget proposal. Löfven has previously said that the finance ministry has started working on a politically neutral budget proposal, if his government has no choice but to put one to a vote in parliament.

After meeting all party leaders on Monday, Norlén said he would not appoint another person to head further negotiations at this stage. Instead he said he would continue meeting party leaders for group talks to discuss possible coalition alternatives.

The speaker has a total of four chances to ask a candidate to try to form a government that will be accepted by parliament – and all four chances still remain, since parliament has not yet voted on any proposal.

It's not essential for a majority in parliament to support the speaker's proposal, but it will fail if a majority vote against it. If they cannot agree, a new election shall be held within three months. However, this has never happened in Swedish history because parliament has always approved the first proposal.

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