Sweden faces a snap vote unless political parties can end a standoff that has left the country without a new government three months after a general election in September. "The parties are pushing Sweden toward a snap election," speaker Andreas Norlen said in a statement after parliament rejected Social Democrat leader Stefan Lofven as prime minister for a second time. "I have therefore decided that I should start to take steps in order to prepare for that." He said he would announce next week what the next step will be, adding that informal talks with the party leaders would be held in the coming days.
The Riksdagen voted 200-116 to reject a minority coalition of Lofven's Social Democrats — Sweden's largest party — and the left-leaning Greens.
All attempts so far at forming a government have been without the populist, nationalist Sweden Democrats, which have roots in a neo-Nazi movement. Neither the center-left nor the center-right bloc in the parliament will cooperate with the party that made great strides in the Sept. 9 election.
The vote produced a hung parliament with the blocs securing about 40 percent of the vote each, leaving neither with a majority and paving the way for months of uncertainty and complex coalition talks.
On Thursday, the center-right bloc had its budget proposal for 2019 approved in Parliament — a first blow to Lofven who had presented a transitional and politically neutral budget. In Sweden caretaker governments are not meant to make partisan decisions. Last month, lawmakers rejected a proposed minority coalition led by the second-largest party, the first time in Swedish history that a proposal for a new prime minister had been defeated.