Swedish prime minister to resign after losing no confidence vote

Sweden’s prime minister will be stripped of his position after losing a vote of no confidence on Tuesday, as the country grapples with a hung parliament and a surge in support for a radical nationalist party in elections earlier this month.

Stefan Lofven, the leader of the Social Democratic Party who has been prime minister for four years, will continue in a caretaker role until a new government can be formed that has the command of the Riksdag.

Mr Lofven lost the vote as Sweden’s centre-right parties joined forces with the hard-Right Sweden Democrats party to vote against him – an unprecedented move in Swedish politics that will lead to weeks of uncertainty.

Swedish MPs voted 204-142 against Lofven, while three abstained. The vote was mandatory after the September 9 election delivered a hung parliament.

Though the hard-Right Sweden Democrats made major gains in the election, securing 17.5 per cent of the vote, all mainstream parties in the Riksdag have refused to join forces with the group, citing its neo-Nazi roots.

Swedish election 2018 results Parliament seats by party

 Mr Lofven believes his centre-left party may be able to form a government despite the no confidence vote, but did not reveal who his future coalition partners might be.

However, centre-right Alliance leader Ulf Kristersson has also insisted since the election that he has enough support to become the country’s next leader.

"Sweden needs a new government that has broad political support to undertake reforms," Mr Kristersson told parliament moments before the confidence vote on Tuesday.  

Mr Lofven hit back, claiming that his rivals could only form a government if they broke their promise not to co-operate with the Sweden Democrats.

"If the Alliance chooses to govern as the smaller bloc they will be totally dependent on the Sweden Democrats," he said.

"The Sweden Democrats were founded by neo-Nazi members of the Swedish white supremacy movement. They have repeatedly been found to have ties to racist and neo-Nazi organisations.

"All eyes are now on the Alliance’s big election promise to the Swedish people that it would never govern with the support of the Sweden Democrats."

A spokesman for Sweden Democrats said they were ready to hold coalition talks with the centre-right and centre-left at any time.

It remains unclear what type of government will emerge from the upcoming coalition talks, which could potentially last for months. 

Experts have not ruled out a grand coalition, where the centre-right and centre-left join forces to lock the Sweden Democrats out of power. 

The Social Democrats posted their worst election score in more than a century, but they remain Sweden’s biggest party, far ahead of Kristersson’s Moderates and the Sweden Democrats.

The Sweden Democrats, led by fresh-faced leader Jimmie Akesson, forced immigration to the front of the agenda during the election campaign.

His party believes that mass migration from Muslim countries is to blame for a recent surge in sex attacks on women and riots across the country, as well as pressure on public services.

Sweden accepted more refugees per capita than any other European country at the height of the refugee crisis.

Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph before the election, former Sweden Democrats leader Mattias Karlsson said: “There’s been a lot of sexual assault and rape and that is I think due to cultural differences in how you view women and women’s rights."

“There are a percentage of men from the Middle East who think that if a woman gets raped it’s her own fault and she doesn’t have any rights because she has put herself in that position,” he adds.