Swedish PM ousted, anti-immigrant party pushing for policy role

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven lost a no-confidence vote in parliament on Tuesday, with the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats threatening to block any new government unless they are given a say in policy.

The rise of the far right across Europe has forced many traditional parties into an uncomfortable choice of sharing power with populist forces or reaching out to long-standing opponents to keep them out.

Sweden, long seen as a bastion of liberal values and political stability, now faces the same choice with its center-left and center-right blocs evenly balanced after the Sept. 9 election and the Sweden Democrats holding the balance of power.

Now the excitement will really start, said Ulf Bjereld, political scientist at Gothenburg University. The parties will have to show their true colors now.

The Sweden Democrats have been shunned by all other parties since entering parliament in 2010, making any tie-up unlikely.

But if there is no viable government after four attempts by the speaker, then a new election would have to be called within three months, with the main parties likely to face a similar dilemma again.

Voters delivered a hung parliament in the Sept. 9 election when Lofven's center-left bloc won 144 seats, one more than the center-right opposition Alliance.

The Sweden Democrats, a party that has its roots in the white supremacist fringe, got 62 seats and backed the Alliance in Tuesday's vote, which was an obligatory test of the prime minister's parliamentary support after an election.

A new government could take weeks or months - as was the case in Germany and Italy - to thrash out. The speaker will start discussions with party leaders on Thursday.

Source: Radio Pakistan