Swedish right-wing leader abandons PM bid with Lofven waiting in the wings

FILE PHOTO: Sweden's Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson during the election campaign in Stockholm, Sweden September 8, 2018. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -Swedish right-wing Prime Minister candidate Ulf Kristersson said on Thursday he was abandoning his attempt to form a government just two days after the speaker gave him the first stab at forming one following the fall of the centre-left cabinet.

"The parliamentary conditions for forming a new centre-right government do not exist," he told a news conference.

Given the composition of the current parliament, Kristersson had been widely expected to struggle to gain sufficient backing.

In a last-ditch effort to lure individual members of parliament to break ranks with their party line, he had promised a lavish reform package on Wednesday aimed at rural development, but this was quickly dismissed by the centrist party that was key to his plans to form a government.

Kristersson was asked to try to form a new government after Social Democrat Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, whom has led fragile centre-left government, lost a no-confidence vote last week and later resigned.

The speaker is now expected to hand the next attempt at government formation to Lofven, who's backing is stronger and potentially sufficient to get his government approved by parliament, though inadequate to assure passage of his budget bills.

(Reporting by Johan Ahlander and Simon Johnson; editing by Niklas Pollard)

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