STOCKHOLM - Swedish lawmakers Friday rejected proposals for caretaker Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to form a center-left government, more than three months after elections that left the country in political limbo.
The Riksdagen voted 200-116 to reject a minority coalition of Lofven's Social Democrats, Sweden's largest party, and the left-leaning Greens.
Two attempts left
Friday's vote was the second of a possible four before Speaker Andreas Norlen must call new elections.
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.
"I can see the parties in Riksdagen moving Sweden closer to a new election and I will do everything I can to prevent it. But should the parties choose a new vote to have a new government, I will not stand in the way," Norlen said in a statement.
Populist, nationalist party
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 or 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.
There was no immediate comment from Lofven who was in Brussels for a European Union summit.
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.