Sweden’s Riksdag will elect the first female Prime Minister
The Minister of Finance will face a struggle for political survival when he takes the reins over the Social Democrats – Copyright AFP Jonathan NACKSTRAND
Sweden’s Riksdag looks set to elect Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson as the country’s first female prime minister on Wednesday, hours after she signed a last – minute agreement that secured key support.
The 54-year-old, who took over as leader of the Social Democrats earlier this month, reached an agreement late on Tuesday with the Left Party on raising pensions in exchange for his support in Wednesday’s vote in the Riksdag.
– We have reached an agreement to strengthen the finances of the poorest pensioners, Andersson says to SVT minutes after the deal was announced.
– We will not block Andersson, says the Left Party’s leader Nooshi Dadgostar to Swedish Radio.
According to Sweden’s system, a prime ministerial candidate does not need the support of a majority in the Riksdag – they just do not need to have a majority against them.
Andersson has already received support from the Social Democrats’ coalition partner The Greens, as well as the Center Party.
But political observers noted that there was still a small chance that the Center Party could oppose Andersson’s bid.
It has previously warned that it could withdraw its support if it gives too much land to the Left Party.
Center leader Annie Loof refused late Monday to comment on the Left’s deal with Andersson.
The vote will take place at 0800 GMT.
If she is elected, Andersson would formally take over her functions after a meeting with King Carl XVI Gustaf on Friday.
She would replace Stefan Lofven, who resigned on November 10 after seven years as prime minister in a highly anticipated move aimed at giving her successor time to prepare for the country’s general election in September 2022.
The Social Democrats are currently hovering near their lowest ratings ever with elections less than a year away.
The right-wing opposition, led by the conservative Moderates, has in recent years moved closer to the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats and hopes to be able to govern with its informal backing.
‘Pragmatic’ technocrat –
Despite the fact that Sweden is a nation that has long fought for gender equality, Sweden has never had a woman as prime minister.
All other Nordic countries – Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland – have seen women lead their governments.
After being confirmed as the leader of the Social Democrats, Andersson, a former junior swimming champion who is often described as a “pragmatic” and “technocratic bureaucrat”, outlined three political priorities.
She said she wanted to “take back democratic control over schools, health care and elderly care”, and move away from the privatization of the welfare sector.
She also said that her goal was to make Sweden a worldwide role model in climate change.
And she promised to end the segregation, shootings and bombings that have plagued the country in recent years, usually because of rival gangs that have made scores or organized crime fighting over the drug market.
The violence has mainly affected disadvantaged districts with large immigrant populations, but has increasingly spread to other areas.
In 2020, 47 people were killed in 366 shootings in the country with 10.3 million people, according to official statistics.
There were also 107 bombings and 102 detonation attempts.
Crime and immigration are expected to be among the Swedes’ main concerns in next year’s election.
Lund University’s political analyst Anders Sannerstedt predicted that there would be a “close race”.
“Right now, four parties on the right have 174 seats (in parliament), while the four parties on the left have 175 seats. The latest polls show about the same,” he says.
Sannerstedt said he expected “no major changes” in the policy from a government led by Andersson.