In Sweden, Magdalena Andersson becomes the first female Prime Minister

Published on : 24/11/2021 – 11:40

Swedish Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson was elected Prime Minister by Parliament on Wednesday, becoming the first woman to lead the Nordic kingdom after two weeks of difficult negotiations.

Social Democratic leader Magdalena Andersson was confirmed on Wednesday November 24 as Prime Minister by the Parliament of Sweden, becoming the first woman to hold this post in the country’s history.

This 54-year-old economist, until now Minister of Finance to her predecessor Stefan Löfven, had secured in extremis on Tuesday the necessary support to come to power, thanks to a last-minute agreement with the Left Party to increase small pensions. Visibly moved, she got up to the applause of her camp to be handed her charge by the president of the Riksdag.

A political crisis from the start

The new leader, however, faces a nasty surprise after losing the support of a key centrist party for her budget. She therefore risks having to govern with the budget prepared by the right-wing opposition with the unprecedented support of the far-right Sweden Democrats party, following a vote scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. “I believe that I can govern the country nonetheless,” she said at a press conference, repeating her slogan “I believe Sweden can do better”.

Worn out by seven years in power and by a political crisis at the beginning of the summer, Stefan Löfven had announced in August that he would resign in November, less than a year from the legislative elections of September 2022. Former high-level swimmer, known for her direct style which earned her the nickname the “bulldozer”, Magdalena Andersson had already succeeded her at the head of the Social Democratic Party at the beginning of November.

The handover for the post of Prime Minister proved to be complicated, however, with the tiniest of margins. The tight political balances in the Swedish parliament, which resulted in a four-month delay in forming a government after the last elections in 2018, complicated the situation.

Magdalena Andersson was elected thanks to a vote of deputies with 117 votes in favor, 57 abstentions, 174 against and one absence. In Sweden, a government has “passed” as long as an absolute majority of 175 deputies out of 349 does not vote its censure.

A first

Despite being a clear champion of gender equality, Sweden has so far never had a female prime minister, unlike all the other Nordic countries. A century after the suffrage of women in Sweden, Magdalena Andersson succeeds 33 men who have held the position since its creation in 1876.

Once he has been appointed to Rosenbad, the Prime Minister’s seat, his great challenge is known: to keep the Social Democrats in power next September. Around 25% in the polls, the party once led by Olof Palme retains its rank as the leading political formation in Sweden, but is close to its historic lows.

He will have to counter his great rival, the conservative Moderates party, led by Ulf Kristersson. The latter has joined forces with the far-right anti-immigration Swedish Democrats (SD) party – evidenced by their alliance on the budget – and is now ready to govern with his support in Parliament.

This end of the cordon sanitaire and the games of alliances between large and small parties make the ballot even more unpredictable, analysts say. Ulf Kristersson mocked “a desperate government” on Wednesday morning in an interview with Swedish agency TT.

To revive her camp, Magdalena Andersson has set three main priorities: “to regain democratic control” over schools, the health system and retirement homes after a wave of privatizations, to establish Sweden as a climate champion and to fight segregation in this way. than the brutal gang war that Sweden fails to stop.

With AFP and Reuters

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