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Sweden Closer to Election As Lofven Drops Bid to Form Government

Swedish Social Democrat leader Stefan Lofven speaks during a news conference at the Swedish parliament in Stockholm, Sweden, Oct. 29, 2018.

The leader of Sweden's Social Democrats, Stefan Lofven, on Monday abandoned efforts to form a government, extending a political deadlock that has gripped the country since an inconclusive national election seven weeks ago.

The failed attempt brought the prospect of a snap election closer, though the speaker of parliament said he would try to avoid that at all costs.

The Sept. 9 vote gave the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats hold the balance of power, but neither Lofven's center-left bloc nor the center-right group of parties has been willing to give them a say in policy due to their white supremacist roots.

"In light of the responses I have had so far ... the possibility does not exist for me to build a government that can be accepted by parliament," Lofven told reporters.

The center-right Alliance bloc's leader, Ulf Kristersson, has already tried and failed to form a government.

Speaker Andreas Norlen, who on Monday held talks with all the party leaders, said he would not, at least for now, ask anyone else to try to form a government.

Instead, he would on Tuesday take on a more active role in trying to mediate a way to forming a viable coalition. He would propose a prime minister to parliament at least once during the autumn, in order if possible to avoid another election.

"A snap election would be a big defeat for the Swedish political system," he told reporters.

A caretaker administration under Lofven has run Sweden since last month's ballot.

The delay in forming a permanent government could further undermine faith in mainstream parties. Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Akesson said a new vote could boost support for his party.

Both Lofven and Kristersson said they still hope to be prime minister, but neither offered a way to end the stalemate.

"I do not see any indication that anyone has changed their minds about anything at all," Kristersson told reporters after meeting speaker Norlen.