September 23, 2010 / 3:20 PM / in 8 years

Swedish government lacks majority after final count

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden’s ruling centre-right coalition picked up one seat but was still two short of a majority in parliament after a final recount of votes from Sunday’s election.

Sweden's Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt speaks to reporters during a news conference in Stockholm September 20, 2010. REUTERS/Bob Strong

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s coalition won 173 seats in a definitive recount issued by the election commission on Thursday, versus the 172 announced on election night, but fell short of the 175 seats needed for a majority.

The centre-right Alliance bloc beat the Social Democrat-led opposition by a wide margin, but lost its majority because the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats, shunned by both blocs, won their first seats in parliament.

Reinfeldt has said he will reach out to the opposition Green Party for support, but the Greens have said their voters would not approve of such a link, meaning the centre-right will probably need to cobble together majorities bill by bill.

“This is clearly an unstable parliamentary situation,” Gothenburg University Political Science Professor Folke Johansson said. “If the political decision-making process is paralysed we will have new elections.”

The government should have little trouble passing its key budget bills since a rejection would require the entire opposition, from far left to far right, to unite behind a comprehensive alternative.

On other legislation, Reinfeldt will need support from the centre-left camp, or tacit backing from the Sweden Democrats which would be controversial.

The lack of a majority could hamper government plans in areas such as privatisation, where the centre-right wants to restart sales of state equity assets such as stakes in top bank Nordea and telecom operator TeliaSonera.

TIGHT RACE

Fewer than 2,000 votes separated Reinfeldt’s coalition of Moderates, Centre Party, Liberals and Christian Democrats and the total of all other parliamentary parties, the final tally showed.

The results can be appealed within 10 days by a party or individual. Political analysts said further scrutiny of the votes was unlikely to change the outcome and the government suggested it would not appeal.

“We have seen no reason for that,” said Sebastian Carlsson, press secretary to the prime minister. “Both municipalities and county administrative boards have counted (the votes) several times and we need to have faith in those authorities.”

The result confirmed a preliminary count released late on Wednesday, which added late postal and overseas ballots not counted on election night.

Additional reporting by Bjorn Rundstrom; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

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