Swedish centre-left Prime Minister Stefan Lofven announced his resignation on Monday and handed the job of finding his successor to the parliamentary speaker, one week after losing a no-confidence vote in the assembly.
The vote was called after a left-wing party withdrew its support for Lofven's minority government due to a clash about proposed reforms to Sweden's rental market.
It was the first time a Swedish premier had lost such a no-confidence vote.
Lofven, the 63-year-old leader of the Social Democrats, told a press conference that for the past week he had weighed whether to resign or call a snap election, but that the coronavirus pandemic was key to his decision.
"In view of the extraordinary situation in which the country is in with the ongoing pandemic and the special challenges associated with it, a new election is not the best for Sweden," he said.
Speaker of Parliament Andreas Norlen will now initiate the search for a candidate who will be tasked with forming a new government.
In the next few days Norlen will hold talks with all parliamentary groups about their chances of success.
Lofven, who has been prime minister since 2014, could therefore get the opportunity to make a new attempt.
"I am available to lead a government that the Riksdag [parliament] can accept," said Lofven, leaving it open with which parties he wanted to form a coalition.
The fact that Lofven has decided to resign could be a signal of his confidence in a quick comeback. If he manages to unite the left and the centre behind him, in addition to the votes of the Social Democrats and Greens, he would have 175 votes together - exactly as many as are necessary for a majority in the 349-seat legislature.
Build a majority
The leader of the Moderate Party, Ulf Kristersson, is also already working to build a majority.
The Moderates, along with Lofven's Social Democrats, have traditionally been the strongest force in the Stockholm parliament. However, the rise of right-wing Sweden Democrats has made it more difficult to form governments.
The confidence vote was requested by the Sweden Democrats. The Moderates, Christian Democrats and the Left Party also opposed Lofven in the vote.
The next scheduled general election is in September 2022. It will take place regardless of whether a political impasse leads to a snap election in the meantime.