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Swedish parliament to vote on centre-right PM candidate next week

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The speaker of Sweden’s parliament called on Monday a vote to elect centre-right leader Ulf Kristersson as the next prime minister, but acknowledged his attempt to break a post-election deadlock had no guarantee of success.

FILE PHOTO: Ulf Kristersson, leader of Sweden's Moderate Party, announces at a news conference, after his meeting with the Speaker of the Parliament that his attempt to form a government failed, in Stockholm, Sweden October, 14 2018. TT News Agency/Henrik Montgomery/File Photo via REUTERS

Next week’s vote by lawmakers aims to end the stalemate since an election in September that left the centre-left and centre-right blocs evenly sized, and with the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats holding the balance of power.

Discussions on forming a government have led nowhere and there are few signs that parties are willing to compromise.

Speaker Andreas Norlen hopes to force the parties to choose sides finally by formally proposing Kristersson as prime minister to parliament on Nov. 12. However, Kristersson’s chances of winning majority support when lawmakers vote on Nov. 14 look bleak.

“Right now, there are absolutely no guarantees that Ulf Kristersson will be elected,” Norlen told a news conference in parliament.

The Liberals and Centre party - part of the four party Alliance - have already said they would not be part of, or support a centre-right minority administration that relied on backing from the Sweden Democrats.

Liberal leader Jan Bjorklund ruled out supporting Kristersson next week. “We will vote no,” he told TV4.

Centre Party leader Annie Loof wrote on Facebook she regretted that Kristersson’s Moderates had halted talks with centre-left parties, but stopped short of saying outright she would vote against him.

The rise of the Sweden Democrats, who won nearly 18 percent in the election, has prevented either major bloc from forming a majority government. Their leader Jimmie Akesson wants influence on policy in return for supporting a new government.

In the Alliance, the Centre and Liberal parties have ruled out any form of cooperation with the Sweden Democrats due to their anti-immigration policies and roots in the white-supremacist movement.

The Moderates and Christian Democrats have rejected talks, but are prepared to govern in a minority coalition which would, in practice, need the Sweden Democrats’ support.

Kristersson said he wanted to lead a government including as many Alliance parties as possible, while ruling out negotiations with the Sweden Democrats. “I will give guarantees in the form of the policies I have put forward, no more, no less,” he said.

Akesson said these should accommodate his party’s views. “Kristersson should use the extra time given to him by the speaker well, not least to give us the guarantees we need to support him,” he said.

The centre-left bloc of the Social Democrats, Green Party and Left Party has ruled out any accommodation with the Sweden Democrats.

Caretaker Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who leads the centre-left Social Democrats, wants to secure a second term but his hopes rest on the Centre and Liberal parties’ antipathy to the Sweden Democrats outweighing their political differences with his party.

Reporting by Johan Sennero, Simon Johnson, Johan Ahlander and Daniel Dickson; Editing by Niklas Pollard and David Stamp