Magdalena Andersson has become Sweden’s prime minister for the second time in a week. Her previous stint ended after just seven hours, but in another vote in parliament on Monday she mustered enough support to reclaim the premiership.
Ms Andersson, leader of the centre-left Social Democrats, is Sweden’s first female prime minister.
The 54-year-old is set to run the country for the next 10 months before elections that will be fiercely contested by the centre-right and nationalist parties who argue that the Social Democrat-led governments of the past seven years have done little to stop Sweden turning into a hotspot for gang crime, including shootings and grenade attacks.
Ms Andersson’s first attempt to become prime minister ended in chaos. Hours after being named premier on Wednesday she lost a parliamentary vote on the budget she wrote as finance minister, her coalition government collapsed and she resigned – all in the course of seven frenetic hours. She will now lead a minority, one-party government.
On Monday, Ms Andersson told a press conference: “Somebody must be prime minister in this country, and there does not seem to be an alternative.”
She conceded that the events of the past week were seen by many as “odd”, but said it felt “very good” to be elected as Sweden’s first female prime minister.
She said her government would try to move Sweden forward in three main areas: welfare, climate change and the fight against gang crime and segregation.
Stefan Löfven stepped down as prime minister and Social Democrat leader this month after becoming the first Swedish head of government to lose a vote of no confidence after far-left and far-right parties joined forces to oust him.
Sweden’s politics have been in upheaval for the past decade due to the emergence of the nationalist Sweden Democrats, which gained 17.5 per cent of the vote in the 2018 elections and have occasionally topped opinion polls.
Initially ostracised by all the other parties because of its roots in the neo-Nazi movement, the Sweden Democrats are now embraced by most of the mainstream centre-right. The Sweden Democrats’ budget – written together with the main opposition party, the Moderates, as well as the Christian Democrats – was adopted by parliament last week, meaning Ms Andersson will be forced to govern with their spending plans. She will have the opportunity in the spring to try to revise those plans.
Sweden, known for its focus on gender equality and feminism, is the last Nordic country to have a female prime minister, 40 years after Norway. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021