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Swedish parliament rejects centre-right Moderates leader as PM

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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden’s parliament rejected centre-right Moderates party leader Ulf Kristersson as new prime minister in a vote on Wednesday, leaving no end in sight to political deadlock that has gripped the country since a September election.

Kristersson’s bid for the premiership had looked doomed to fail after two other parties in the centre-right Alliance bloc said they would oppose any government that relied on support from the shunned anti-immigration Sweden Democrats who hold the balance of power in parliament.

Kristersson was rejected with 195 members of the 349-seat parliament voting against electing him as prime minister while 154 voted in his favour.

The Centre party, a member of the Alliance bloc, repeated its objections before the vote. “The Centre Party will vote ‘no’ to giving a nationalist, populist party a deciding and unique influence,” its leader Annie Loof told parliament.

The speaker proposed Kristersson in the hope of forcing progress amid few signs that parties are willing to compromise after the inconclusive Sept. 9 election. Three more parliamentary votes to choose a new prime minister can be held before new elections must be called.

The Sweden Democrats, ostracised by all other parties due to their fierce nationalism and early links to white supremacist activists, had said they would reject any government that did not offer policy guarantees, above all steep immigration curbs.

GRAPHIC - Election scenarios:

Reporting by Johan Ahlander and Daniel Dickson; editing by Niklas Pollard and David Stamp