Sweden’s prime minister Stefan Lofven has resigned, pushing the country into political turmoil as he and the leader of the country’s opposition battle to build viable coalitions.
The 63-year-old former union dealmaker said that the decision not to instead call snap elections had been "the most difficult political decision" of his life.
"There are actually two bad alternatives, to be completely honest… but I feel confident that this is the best option." he said, arguing that an autumn election campaign risked clashing with a possible fourth wave of coronavirus infections.
"I do not think that the majority of the Swedish people want to have a snap election."
Mr Lofven last Monday became the first leader in Swedish history to lose a no-confidence vote in parliament, after which he had a week to decide whether to call elections or resign.
As he stood down, Mr Lofven had harsh words for the Left Party, the country’s former communists, who triggered the process by teaming up with the Right-wing bloc, including the populist Sweden Democrats, to fell the government.
"I think [it’s] very strange for the Left Party to make an alliance with Right-wing extremists. We’re never seen that before," he told the Daily Telegraph.
The Left Party was explicitly prevented from having any political influence under the so-called "January Agreement" Mr Lofven struck with two smaller parties in the middle of the political centre to enable him to take power in January 2019, following four months of political deadlock.
The party’s frustration boiled over as the government refused to stop moves towards liberalising rents, one of the party’s red lines.
Mr Lofven was also critical of the right-wing parties for toppling the government despite lacking enough mandates to build their own.
"They voted the government out without themselves having an alternative for government," he said.
The speaker will soon begin talks with party leaders to judge who is best to form a workable coalition, probably starting with Ulf Kristersson, leader of the opposition Moderate Party.
Under Sweden’s system of "negative parliamentarism", he will need to convince a majority of MPs not to vote against his candidacy.
Even if he gets the backing of all MPs from all of the parties who now support him, Mr Kristersson remains one mandate short, meaning his only hope rests with any MPs in the Centre party who might be willing to vote against their party line.
If he fails, the baton will return to Mr Lofven, and if four attempts at forming a government fail, there will be automatic snap elections.
At the press conference, Mr Lofven noted that it had been the Liberal Party which had insisted on cutting the Left Party out of political influence in 2019.