Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven loses confidence vote

Sweden’s center-left prime minister was toppled after losing a confidence vote in parliament Tuesday, forcing the country into a period of further political turmoil.

The center-right opposition parties voted with the far-right Sweden Democrats to depose Stefan Löfven, two weeks after a tumultuous general election that delivered a hung parliament.

The newly elected speaker of parliament, Andreas Norlen of the Moderates, will now consult with parliamentary parties over a new prime minister. Those discussions are likely to be tortuous, as the Democrats have pledged not to enter a formal coalition with the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats.

The speaker’s eventual choice for prime minister must be put to a vote. If no more than half of the politicians — at least 175 members — vote against the speaker’s nominee, the appointment would go through, CNN’s Swedish affiliate Expressen reports.

Norlen has four attempts at proposing a new prime minister. If he fails to get enough support in parliament and the deadlock continues, Sweden would need to hold a new election within three months.

Löfven, who has served as prime minister since 2014, will lead a transitional government until further notice, the speaker’s office said Tuesday.

Speaking at a press conference after the vote, Löfven told reporters: “I’m still Sweden’s prime minister. I am prime minister in a transitional government.”

When asked if he thought he could be named as the next prime minister, he said “I see good opportunities for that, yes. … I am at the disposal of the speaker. I want to continue serving our country.”

Löfven’s party, the Social Democrats, came first in the September 9 election but won just 28.4% of the votes, its worst showing in more than a century. Its center-left coalition won 40.6% of the vote, just a hair’s breadth ahead of the opposition center-right bloc, which gained 40.3%. Meanwhile, the Sweden Democrats made significant gains with 17.6% of the vote, upending the political landscape.

Amid the political stalemate, Löfven told Swedes he would stay in office. That had the effect of forcing the center-right parties to vote with the Sweden Democrats if they wanted to remove him.