Sweden's first ever female PM resigns just two hours after being appointed

Swedish Social Democratic Party leader and newly appointed Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson during a press conference after the budget vote in the Swedish parliament in Stockholm, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021. (Pontus Lundahl/TT via AP)

Magdalena Andersson, Sweden's newly elected Prime Minister, resigned on Wednesday, hours after being nominated by parliament after her budget failed to pass and the junior Green Party withdrew from the coalition government.

While her tenure was unexpectedly brief, Andersson made history by becoming Sweden's first female prime minister – she was scheduled to assume office on Friday.

The 54-year-old economist, who served as finance minister for seven years, expressed hope for re-election as leader of a minority administration comprised entirely of Social Democrats.

"There is a constitutional requirement that a coalition government resign when one of the parties resigns," Social Democrat Andersson told reporters.

"I'm not interested in leading a government whose legitimacy will be called into question."

Only hours earlier, parliament had elected Andersson after striking a last-minute deal with the Left Party to increase pensions in exchange for the Left Party's critical support in Wednesday's parliamentary vote.

However, the minor Centre Party later withdrew its support for Andersson's budget, citing the Left's compromises, leaving her budget without the necessary votes to pass in parliament.

Rather than that, lawmakers accepted a budget alternative proposed by the opposition's conservative Moderates, Christian Democrats, and far-right Sweden Democrats.

Andersson conceded that she could still govern with that budget.

However, in a more shocking development, Greens leader Per Bolund stated that his party could not support the opposition's "historic budget, drafted for the first time with the far-right," and therefore resigned from the government.

Among other things, it could not support the opposition's proposed petrol tax decrease, which it claimed would result in more emissions.

'A momentous occasion'

Andreas Norlen, the parliament speaker, said he had accepted Andersson's resignation and would consult with party leaders before determining how to move on Thursday.

According to an editorial in Sweden's largest daily Dagens Nyheter, the change of events may benefit Andersson, whom the Greens have pledged to back in a new prime ministerial ballot.

"The Social Democrats can hold all cabinet positions and avoid all compromises with the Greens," the report concluded.

Despite a long history of championing gender equality, Sweden has never had a female prime minister.

Andersson referred to her election as a "special day" because it occurred 100 years after the Scandinavian country granted women the right to vote.

Each of the other Nordic countries — Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland — has had female heads of state.

Andersson succeeded Stefan Lofven as Social Democrat leader earlier this month.

He resigned as Prime Minister on November 10 after seven years in office, a move widely anticipated to provide his successor time to prepare for the country's September 2022 general election.

The leadership shift comes as the Social Democrats are hovering around their lowest support ratings in history, with elections less than a year away.

Meanwhile, the right-wing opposition, led by the conservative Moderates, has moved closer to the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats in recent years and expects to govern with their informal support.

Technocrat 'pragmatic'

Andersson, a former junior swimmer, has been dubbed "bulldozer" by the media and is frequently described as "pragmatic" and a "technocratic bureaucrat."

Following her confirmation as Social Democrats' leader, she listed her political aims as reversing the recent privatization of the welfare system — schools, healthcare, and aged care — and establishing Sweden as a global leader in climate transition.

She also pledged to put an end to segregation, shootings, and bombings that have plagued the country in recent years, typically due to gang rivalries or organized criminals squabbling over the drug market.

Crime and immigration are expected to be significant issues in next year's election for Swedes.

Political observers forecast a tight race.

Publish : 2021-11-25 11:41:00

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