Sweden gets new prime minister: Magdalena Andersson wins second vote in parliament

Magdalena Andersson has been elected prime minister by the Swedish parliament for the second time in six days.

magdalena andersson in parliament
Magdalena Andersson in parliament on Monday after winning her second prime ministerial vote in 6 days. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Andersson was elected with an extremely small marginal – 173 members of parliament voted against her – two more, and she would have lost the vote. She will be Sweden’s first female prime minister once she formally takes office on Tuesday.

“It feels good, and I’m very eager to start working,” Andersson said at a press conference shortly after the vote on Monday.

The Social Democrats, alongside Amineh Kakabaveh, parliament’s only independent, voted for Andersson, with the Green Party, the Left Party and the Centre Party choosing to abstain.

Nina Lundström from the Liberal Party also chose to abstain – breaking party lines and going against the rest of the Liberal Party who voted against Andersson.

Under Sweden’s system, a prime ministerial candidate does not need the support of a majority in parliament, they just need to avoid a majority voting against them.

Despite being a nation that has long championed gender equality, Sweden has never before had a woman as prime minister.

Last week, Andersson was elected by parliament but she had to resign just hours later – before she even had a chance to formally take office – after the Green Party quit her coalition government.

The parliamentary turbulence was unprecedented in politically stable Sweden, where the Social Democrats have dominated for almost a century.

Andersson will now lead a one-party Social Democrat government, rather than the coalition Green-Social Democrat government which had previously been in power since 2014.

This will be Sweden’s first entirely Social Democratic government in 15 years – the last time a one-party Social Democrat government was in power was in 2006, where Andersson was state secretary of the Finance Ministry under then-prime minister Göran Persson.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be easier for the Social Democrats to govern Sweden – their government will still be a minority government, with support from only 100 of parliament’s 349 members, requiring careful cross-party negotiation with the left and right to introduce policy.

“Like all minority governments, we’re going to try and cooperate with other parties in parliament. We have a long tradition of cooperation, and we’re ready to do what it takes to move Sweden forwards,” Andersson said.

She will also have to govern with a budget presented by the opposition conservative Moderates, Christian Democrats and far-right Sweden Democrats, after her budget failed to pass through parliament last week.

Her most obvious cooperation partners are the Greens, the Centre and Left parties.

But she is also expected to court the right on issues blocked by the Greens during their time in government, including the expansion of Stockholm’s Arlanda airport and a nuclear fuel waste site.

Andersson has also singled out crime and immigration – key voter concerns – among her top priorities, issues where the Social Democrats are closer ideologically to the centre-right.

The opposition has however been quick to point out that the right has the strongest block in parliament, and would likely be able to pass many of its policies without the Social Democrats.

The four opposition parties on the centre and right are united on most issues and control 174 seats in parliament, while the four parties on the left and centre, which hold 175 seats, are more splintered.

“The Social Democrats will have to accept that it is parliament that decides and government obeys,” Moderates leader Ulf Kristersson warned before Monday’s vote.

The next step for Andersson is to announce her cabinet – planned for Tuesday at 9.30am. After this she, alongside her new cabinet, will attend a so-called skifteskonselj – a change of government cabinet meeting – with the King of Sweden at the Royal Palace.

That is when the transition of power formally takes place, after which her new government will take up its duties.

She faces a challenging period in the run-up to the next election, scheduled for September next year, which observers predict will be a close race.

However, Andersson is looking further ahead.

“I don’t see this as the start of ten months, I see this as the start of ten years,” she told reporters at a press conference.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Five of Sweden’s political parties planned to evade party financing laws

Five of the eight political parties in the Swedish parliament discussed evading party financing laws with a businessman secretly working with journalists, a new investigation by broadcaster TV4 has found.

Five of Sweden's political parties planned to evade party financing laws

“There’s every reason to demand moral and political responsibility,” political scientist Jonas Hinnfors said of how Sweden’s society should react to the investigation’s findings. “It’s a threat to democracy.”

The new law on donations to political parties which came into force in 201  dictates that parties must declare all donations received from private individuals or businesses. Donators can remain anonymous, byt only as long as their donation does not exceed 24,150 kronor (€2,281). Larger donations must be declared along with the name of the donor.

The Kalla Fakta team which produced the documentary hired two businessmen to call each parliamentary party and ask how they could donate half a million kronor, while staying anonymous. The conversations were recorded and meetings filmed with a hidden camera.

Three parties – the Centre Party, the Left Party and the Green Party – said that it wasn’t possible for the donor to remain anonymous. 

But the other five parties – the Social Democrats, the Moderates, the Sweden Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Liberals – suggested different ways of getting around the requirements.

Christian Democrat press secretary Peter Kullgren suggested splitting up donations and donating to individual candidates so that each donation remained under the legal limit.

Another method, proposed by Sweden Democrat head of finance Lena-Karin Lifvenhjelm, consisted of giving the money to another individual who would donate it under their name instead.

Magdalena Agrell, the Social Democrat’s head of finance, discussed finding someone else to act as a front in recorded telephone conversations.

The chairman and communications chief of the Social Democrat’s youth organisation, Diyar Cicek and Youbert Aziz, suggested that the businessman instead create a foundation to donate the money.

The Moderate Party’s ombudsman Patrik Haggren proposed that donations could be sent from different members of the businessman’s family in order to remain anonymous.

Lisa Flinth, who is responsible for leadership support in the Liberal Party, also proposed this method, providing the contact details of a middleman, the consultant Svend Dahl.

Dahl first proposed that his company send an invoice of half a million kronor to the businessman, but later suggested that the money be transferred to him to donate to the Liberals in his name, thereby avoiding having to pay tax.

“It’s important you keep yourself anonymous,” Dahl said in Kalla Fakta‘s recordings of conversations with the undercover businessman.

Dahl is a political scientist and has previously been head of media organisation Liberala Nyhetsbyrån.

Flinth was well aware of the fact that the method undermines the aim of the law, telling the businessman in a telephone conversation that it was very important that nothing could be traced back to the party.

“It could have serious consequences,” she said. “We don’t really have any margins when it comes to credibility.”

“If there was an article about this in the middle of a heated election campaign and we miss the threshold for getting in to parliament, I would never forgive myself,” she said.

Political scientist Jonas Hinnfors, who commented on the conversation for the Kalla Fakta team, said he was shocked after hearing it.

“They know what the point of the new legislation is,” he told Kalla Fakta. “Going against that is political dynamite.”

In a written comment on their website, the Liberals’ vice-party secretary Gustav Georgson stated that the party would not use Dahl’s consulting services again and that it “takes the statements made by Kalla Fakta seriously and will act forcefully to avoid similar situations happening again.”