Lööf abandoned her bid to form a governing minority coalition last week and has now given her conditional support to Löfven returning to the prime minister’s office.
Löfven currently leads a caretaker government tasked with the day-to-day responsibilities of government but not meant to make any partisan decisions.
A vote on installing Löfven as PM will be held on Wednesday, December 5th, meaning he still has over a week to talk to other party leaders and try to gather support for a government. He is likely to gain the support of his own Social Democrats party and coalition partners the Green Party and Left Party, but would not be supported by a majority unless one or more of the centre-right Centre Party, Moderates or Christian Democrats, or the far-right Sweden Democrats, also vote for the proposal or abstain.
It has been believed that the most likely to do so is the Centre Party and Lööf’s comments on Tuesday lent credence to that argument. She said she is prepared to support Löfven at a price.
“We hope that Stefan Löfven realizes that in order for him to have a chance of becoming prime minister, he will need to carry out Centre Party and centre-right policies,” she said.
Among the Centre Party’s demands are reducing income and corporate taxes, liberalizing the housing and labour markets and rural reforms.
“If they [the Social Democrats, ed.] want us to vote for him they need to accept these proposals,” Lööf said.
If Löfven is approved as PM, he will immediately face another tough test in the form of next year’s budget, which will go before parliament on December 12th. Lööf said that if the Social Democrats go along with their plan, there would be additional demands ahead of that vote as well. She said her party wants to leverage its position of power by securing concessions in exchange for its support.
For his part, Löfven did not immediately weigh in on what he characterized as the Centre Party’s “so-called list of demands”. But he did say that what he had heard so far did not include any surprises, as it is in line with the party’s long-held policies.
“Naturally, I need to take a direct look at it, analyze what it entails and only then take a position on it,” he said on Tuesday.
There is no set deadline by which Sweden must form a government, but the number of prime ministerial votes that can be held before a snap election is automatically called is capped at four.
The vote on Löfven will be the second chance after parliament voted down Moderates leader Ulf Kristersson. This happened after the Centre Party and Liberals, which are in a four-party Alliance with the Moderates and Christian Democrats, refused to back a government that relied on support from the far-right Sweden Democrats. This means the country is now in untested waters — previously, parliament had always accepted the first candidate to be proposed.
In theory, a government proposal does not need a single vote in its favour in order to pass, but it will fail if a majority votes against it. This means that a government can be “tolerated” by abstentions, sometimes called “passive support”.