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Swedish speaker says parliament to vote on Lofven as new PM

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish parliament will vote on whether to back Social Democratic leader Stefan Lofven as new prime minister later this week, the speaker said on Tuesday, in an attempt to break the country’s political limbo.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven gives a news conference at Swedish parliament in Stockholm, Sweden November 23, 2018. Henrik Montgomery/TT News Agency/via REUTERS

The Nordic country has been without a government since a general election in September delivered a hung parliament that has already rejected both Lofven and the leader of the four-party, centre-right Alliance, Ulf Kristersson, as prime minister.

Speaker Andreas Norlen said in a statement the parliament would vote on December 14 whether Lofven, the current caretaker prime minister, will be given a second term. He became prime minister in 2014.

The chances of the vote passing appear slim since talks with the Centre Party and the Liberal Party on potential cooperation broke down on Monday.

Despite being nominally part of the Alliance opposition bloc, the Centre and Liberal parties said at the end of November they were ready to support left-leaning Lofven forming a new government as a way of breaking the political deadlock and keeping the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats politically isolated.

But Centre leader Annie Loof said on Monday that Lofven had not accepted her demands for lower income taxes and more liberal labour laws.

After the Centre Party rejection, the Liberals also said the deal was off and they would not vote for him.

Lofven said on Monday he was still open for discussions over a middle-ground government, but could face a setback on Wednesday when parliament votes on his budget for 2019.

Without support from the Centre or Liberal parties, the budget might not pass and parliament could instead adopt a budget motion put forward by the Moderate and Christian Democrat parties, both in the Alliance.

If the parliament rejects four prime ministerial candidates, a snap election is automatically called.

Reporting by Johan Sennero; editing by Andrew Roche