Swedish parliament to vote on new govt despite failed talks

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The speaker of Sweden’s parliament said Monday lawmakers will vote later this week on whether Swedish Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson should become the country’s first female prime minister even though she has not succeeded in securing the support of a left-leaning party.

Andreas Norlen said Andersson earlier on Monday had informed him that after 11 days of talks there were still not agreement with the Left Party but “negotiations have been good.” A vote in the 349-seat Riksdag was set for Wednesday at 9 a.m.

Under the Swedish Constitution, prime ministers can be named and govern as long as a parliamentary majority — a minimum of 175 lawmakers — is not against them.

Andersson told a news conference with Norlen that talks with the Left Party continue and “I am ready to do what is necessary to solve the problems that the country is facing.”

The new leader of the Social Democratic Party, Andersson is seeking to secure the backing of the two smaller parties that supported Sweden’s previous center-left, minority government led by Stefan Lofven. The other ally, the Center Party, has already said its lawmakers will abstain from voting against Andersson.

The Social Democrats currently hold 100 seats and the Greens have 16 seats. Together with their allies — including 27 for the Left Party — they have a total of 174 seats. Although technically one short of a majority, that is expected to be enough as the opposition is divided and cannot agree on voting against Andersson, with some lawmakers abstaining.

“The Left Party is ready to offer its mandate to get a prime minister and a new government,” Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar told a news conference, adding talks are now focused on pensions for about 700,000 Swedes, which “is a core issue, a very important issue.”

But if there is no agreement with the Social Democrats, “we will vote red” — meaning against Andersson — she said.

The right-wing of the Riksdag is divided. Ulf Kristersson, head of the opposition Moderate party — Sweden’s second-largest — repeatedly has said that a center-right government is not feasible because no mainstream party wants to cooperate with the third-largest Swedish party, the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats, which is rooted in a neo-Nazi movement.

Lofven is still leading the Swedish government in a caretaking capacity until a new government is formed.

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