STOCKHOLM: An attempt by the leader of Sweden's Moderate party to break the political deadlock after September's election looked set to fail on Saturday as two parties in his centre-right bloc said they would not support him in forming a minority government.
Neither the Alliance bloc - headed by Moderates' leader Ulf Kristersson - nor a grouping of centre-left parties won enough votes in the election on September 9 to form a majority and both have ruled out a deal with the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, who hold the balance of power.
Kristersson, tasked to try to form a new government, said on Friday he was prepared to do so without all the parties in the four-party Alliance bloc.
But Liberal leader Jan Bjorklund - a member of the Alliance - said he would not back a government of only the Moderates and Christian Democrats, while Centre Party leader Annie Loof - also in the Alliance - said all four parties had to be part of a deal.
"A Moderates and Christian Democrat government would be a weak government that risks ending up in a snap election and giving power to the Sweden Democrats," Bjorklund told a press conference.
"We will never be part of a government which needs support from the Sweden Democrats," he added.
All the mainstream parties in Sweden have refused to have any dealings with the Sweden Democrat party, which has roots in the white supremacist fringe.
It has refused to support any government that does not give it a say in policy.
Back to square one
The failure of Kristersson's proposal puts the process of forming a government back to square one.
It could also spell the end of the Alliance, formed in 2004 to challenge the political domination of the Social Democrats.
"You cannot interpret this in any other way than that the Alliance is now finished," Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Akesson told daily Expressen.
Both Bjorklund and Loof want the Social Democrats to support an Alliance government, something they have rejected.
"We still want an Alliance government but that needs cooperation across the (political divide), otherwise that will give power to the Sweden Democrats," Loof told reporters on Saturday.
Kristersson said he would meet the speaker of parliament on Sunday.
The baton is likely to pass next to Stefan Lofven, the leader of the Social Democrats and current caretaker prime minister. He lost a no-confidence vote in Parliament on September 25.
The speaker has four attempts to find a prime minister acceptable to parliament or there will be fresh elections.