He passed the parliamentary vote on Wednesday with 176 members of parliament either voting in favour of his return to office or abstaining from the vote.
“Parliament has put its trust in me to continue leading in Sweden. I take on this task with determination and respect,” the returning PM told media at a press conference.
The system required a majority (at least 175) to not vote against him, rather than needing a majority of ‘yes’ votes; in other words, abstentions effectively worked as votes in favour.
To reach that majority, Löfven received votes in favour from members of the governing Social Democrat and Green parties (116 votes in total) while the Centre and Left Parties (58 votes) abstained, as did one former Left Party MP who is now politically independent. In addition, one member of the Liberal Party voted against her party line and abstained from the vote.
A total of 173 MPs voted against Löfven’s reinstatement as prime minister, including the Moderates, Sweden Democrats, and most Liberal Party MPs.
The vote was called after Löfven became Sweden’s first ever prime minister to lose a vote of no confidence after the Social Democrats’ long-term ally the Left Party (which was opposed to suggested changes to Swedish rental laws) sided with the right-wing opposition to topple the government. Löfven opted to resign rather than call a snap election, citing the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic as a reason to avoid prolonged political uncertainty.
This meant a round of talks between party leaders, aimed at forming a government backed by a parliamentary majority.
Ulf Kristersson, the leader of Sweden’s main opposition party the Moderates, then abandoned his own bid to form a government after realising he didn’t have the votes. Even though the no-confidence vote had been passed by a majority of parliament, the Left Party still prefers to back a left-of-centre government, but Kristersson was critical of Löfven’s return.
“We are getting a historically weak government which has so little agreement on policy [with the parties whose support is needed] that they cannot even put forward a common budget,” he said after the vote.
On Friday, Löfven will announce the members of his new government, though no major changes are expected from the previous line-up.
But despite being voted back in, Löfven doesn’t have an easy path ahead, with the next general election scheduled for September 2022.
Before then, one of his most significant tasks will be passing this year’s autumn budget. He has not yet secured parliamentary support for this, with the Centre Party refusing to collaborate with the Left Party and both parties’ support likely needed for a majority.
We will be discussing Sweden’s new (ish) prime minister in the next episode of our Sweden in Focus podcast on Saturday. Click HERE to listen.
More on the government crisis: