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Swedish government talks stalled as Center party leader gives up

Swedish Centre Party leader Annie Loof on her way to meet with the Speaker of Parliament Andreas Norlen at the Parliament (Riksdagen) in Stockholm, Sweden, November 22, 2018. TT News Agency/Jessica Gow via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. SWEDEN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SWEDEN.

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The leader of the centre-right Swedish Center party leader on Thursday gave up trying to form a government, bringing the possibility of another election a step closer.

Center leader Annie Loof is the third politician to fail to find a way forward after September’s election left parliament deadlocked. The speaker of parliament must decide what happens next.

The centre-left and centre-right blocs are roughly equally sized in parliament where the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats - a party with roots in the white-supremacist fringe - hold the balance of power.

Loof said she had tried to build support for a broad government which excluded the Sweden Democrats and the Left Party and kept intact the centre-right Alliance, a four-party bloc of which the Center is part.

“Unfortunately, all these solutions have been blocked by one party or several parties saying no,” she told journalists after meeting the speaker.

“Now the speaker ... will decide the next step in the process.”

With all doors seemingly shut, Speaker Andreas Norlen is running out of options. Norlen has said he could ask parliament to vote again on Social Democrat Stefan Lofven as prime minister. Parliament has already voted him down once and there is no indication such a vote would succeed on a second attempt.

If parliament rejects four candidates, Sweden must hold a another election.

Reporting by Stockholm Newsroom; editing by Niklas Pollard and Robin Pomeroy