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It’s crunch time for Swedish politics: What will happen on Wednesday?

It's crunch time for Swedish politics: What will happen on Wednesday?
Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar, whose party could put an end to Magdalena Andersson's prime ministerial bid. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT 
Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson has been nominated as Sweden's new prime minister. Her fate will be decided in a vote in parliament on Wednesday at 9am – but what does this mean for Swedish politics?

Does this mean Andersson is going to be Sweden’s new prime minister?

Not necessarily. The nomination just means that her prime ministerial bid will be put to a vote by parliament, and it is not yet clear if her nomination will pass on Wednesday.

Under Sweden’s system of negative parliamentarianism, a prime ministerial candidate needs only to convince a majority of members of parliament not to vote against them in order to take power. But with the slim margins in the current Swedish parliament, that is not actually a safe guarantee.

Andersson needs to win the votes or abstentions of both the Centre Party’s 31 MPs and the Left Party’s 28 MPs. Together with the government coalition parties’ 100 Social Democrat MPs and 16 Green Party MPs, this would bring her to the magic majority of 175 mandates (the right-wing parties have 174). 

READ MORE: Magdalena Andersson nominated as Sweden’s new prime minister

What needs to happen for her to win?

Andersson has already achieved the support of the Centre Party, as well as the government coalition parties – the Social Democrats and the Green Party. This means that the only barrier between her and the prime ministerial post are the Left Party’s 28 members of parliament.

She has not yet achieved support from the Left Party despite ten days of negotiations, meaning that – if the party’s MPs choose to vote against her instead of voting for her or abstaining – she will lose the vote.

The Left Party wants more generous pensions, so Andersson may have to reach an agreement on this topic to secure the party’s votes.

What are the chances that the Left Party vote against her?

Andersson has previously warned the Left Party’s leader, Nooshi Dadgostar, that if her party doesn’t back her candidacy, they will be enabling “the most right-wing conservative government Sweden has had in modern times”.

Senior Social Democrats, meanwhile, have questioned whether Dadgostar will be willing to stand in the way of history, and block Sweden’s first female prime minister. 

“Is Nooshi Dadgostar seriously considering stopping Sweden’s first female prime minister?” asked former foreign minister Margot Wallström in a post on Facebook in October.

This could be a miscalculation. 

Dadgostar showed herself willing to vote down a Social Democrat PM in June, and reaped substantial benefits from doing so. 

She could well be willing to do so again on Wednesday, whether the PM candidate is female or not.

Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson on her way to a press conference with speaker Anders Norlén. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

She might calculate that there is little risk of the Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson getting his own candidacy past parliament, meaning she can stall the process and thereby win concessions from the Social Democrats. 

Dadgostar also threatened in a press conference on Monday to vote against Andersson, if the two leaders haven’t come to an agreement before the prime ministerial vote.

“If the Left Party, for example, just waved Andersson through, then the Social Democrats might come to believe that it’s business as usual with that party and that they don’t need take too much notice of it. So it’s a very finely balanced bargaining situation,” Nicholas Aylott, associate professor at Södertörn University, told The Local earlier in November.

However, Andersson also needs to play it safe – if she makes too many concessions to the Left Party, the Centre Party could rebel and pull its tacit support.

What happens if Magdalena Andersson wins?

If Andersson wins, she will be Sweden’s new prime minister. She may be able to present a new government as early as Friday this week.

What happens if Magdalena Andersson loses?

If Andersson loses, there are a few different possibilities.

Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson may be offered the opportunity to put his own candidacy to a vote – which he would probably lose.

After this, assuming the Social Democrats make concessions to the Left Party, and gain its support, Andersson would most likely be nominated again – and would win, as long as the Centre Party accepts her concessions to the Left Party.

The speaker has four chances to nominate a new prime minister – so if neither Andersson nor Kristersson wins, and the situation remains blocked, there would be a snap general election.

Leader of the Moderate Party Ulf Kristersson may also have the chance to put his own prime ministerial candidacy to a vote if Andersson loses. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

What are the different options for a government?

One option is the return of a Social Democrat-Green government, which would rely on support from the Centre and Left Parties at a minimum to reach the required majority. This is the most likely scenario, although it is by no means definite that this will happen.

On the right of the political spectrum, a Moderate-Christian Democrat government could become a reality, possibly including the Liberal Party. With the support of the Liberal Party and the Sweden Democrats, they would be one vote short, but could take power with the support of just one or more other MPs going against the party line, and one Centre Party MP did just that in 2018.

Another option is a centrist coalition, which could see the Centre Party unite others from both sides of the coalition. The biggest obstacle to this reality is the reluctance of the Social Democrats and Moderates to work together. 

What else is happening on Wednesday?

In an unrelated vote, timetabled prior to news that Andersson’s prime ministerial candidacy would be tested on Wednesday morning, the government’s budget for 2022 will also be passed or rejected. This vote will take place at 4pm after the prime ministerial vote, meaning that parliament will already know whether Andersson’s bid has succeeded or failed.

This will undoubtedly be an extra element of stress for Andersson, who risks not only losing her prime ministerial candidacy, but also failing to pass her budget – which would be a major blow to the current finance minister.

SWEDISH BUDGET: Will the government be able to pass its proposals?


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