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TODAY: Swedish parliament to vote on Magdalena Andersson again as prime minister

Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson will get a second shot at becoming Sweden's new prime minister on Monday, after her first attempt last week lasted just seven hours.

TODAY: Swedish parliament to vote on Magdalena Andersson again as prime minister
Prime ministerial candidate Magdalena Andersson. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

UPDATED: Magdalena Andersson wins second vote in parliament

Parliament is expected to appoint Andersson as the head of a minority government made up solely of the Social Democrats, with just 10 months to go before September general elections. The parliament’s vote is scheduled to begin at 1pm.

If confirmed as anticipated, Andersson, the 54-year-old current finance minister, faces a challenging period in the run-up to the election.

Holding 100 of 349 seats in parliament, her minority government will have to govern with the opposition’s budget following what media dubbed a “nightmarish” day in parliament last week.

Last Wednesday, lawmakers elected Andersson as the country’s first woman prime minister but she resigned just hours later – before she even had a chance to formally take office – after the Green Party quit her coalition government.

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

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

ANALYSIS: How did politics in Sweden get so fiendishly complicated?

The tumult began when Andersson secured a last-minute deal with the Left Party to raise pensions in exchange for its crucial backing to get her elected as prime minister.

But that agreement did not sit well with the small Centre Party, which withdrew its support for Andersson’s budget due to the concessions made to the Left.

That left Andersson’s budget with insufficient votes to pass in parliament. Lawmakers instead adopted an alternative budget presented by the opposition conservative Moderates, Christian Democrats and far-right Sweden Democrats.

Andersson grudgingly said she would still be able to govern with that budget, but the Green Party said it could not accept a budget drafted by the far-right and quit the government.

That meant Andersson had to resign, as the basis on which she was appointed no longer existed.

Weak government

While some experts say the Social Democrats will now have an easier time as the sole party in power without having to make concessions to a coalition partner, others predict a bumpy road ahead.

Andersson’s weak minority means she will have to seek support for her policies on both the left and the right.

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 Stockholms’ Arlanda airport and a final depository for nuclear fuel waste.

KEY POINTS: What you need to know about Sweden’s new budget

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 constellation in parliament, and would likely be able to pass many of its policies without the Social Democrats.

The Moderates, Christian Democrats and Sweden Democrats are united on most issues and together control 154 seats in parliament, while the four parties on the left are more splintered.

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

An economist who has served as finance minister for the past seven years, Andersson took over as leader of the Social Democrats on November 4th from Stefan Löfven. He resigned as prime minister a week later, after seven years in power, in order to give her time to prepare for the September elections.

Article by AFP’s Pia Ohlin

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SWEDEN ELECTS

Sweden Elects: The latest political news as the election campaign kicks off

What's Sweden talking about this week? In The Local's Sweden Elects newsletter, editor Emma Löfgren rounds up some of the main talking points ahead of the Swedish election.

Sweden Elects: The latest political news as the election campaign kicks off

In an interview that could have jeopardised his job a decade ago, Social Democrat Immigration Minister Anders Ygeman’s suggestion in DN that there should be a 50 percent cap on non-Nordic immigrants in troubled areas of Swedish cities showed how the debate has shifted in recent years.

That said, his comments did not go without criticism. The Left Party slammed them as “racist”, the Greens and the Centre Party also criticised them, and so did the Moderates and some within the Social Democrats.

Ygeman himself said that he had been misunderstood, that he had never meant it as an actual proposal, and that factors such as crime and unemployment were far more important in terms of integration.

“But of course segregation is not just class-based, it also has an ethnic dimension. If you have areas where almost everyone is from other countries, it’s harder to learn Swedish, and if it’s harder to learn Swedish, it’s harder to get a job,” he told public broadcaster SVT.

What do you think? Email me if you want to share your thoughts.

Campaign posters and a new poll

The centre-left Social Democrats and the Moderates, the largest right-wing opposition party, both unveiled their campaign posters last week, which I guess means that the summer holiday lull is officially over and the election campaign is now definitely under way. Just over a month to go.

It’s interesting that the Social Democrats are clearly trying to turn this into a “presidential” style campaign, taking advantage of Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson’s overwhelming popularity compared to the Moderates’ Ulf Kristersson, whose reception among voters is lukewarm.

A poll by the DN newspaper and Ipsos a month ago suggested that 37 percent of voters want to see Andersson as prime minister, compared to 22 percent who preferred Kristersson (12 percent preferred the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats’ leader Jimmie Åkesson, and the other party leaders did not get more than four percent each).

Andersson is in the unique position where voters like her way more than they like her party – a new opinion poll by Demoskop suggests that 28.7 percent would vote for the Social Democrats if the election was held today (the Moderates would get 20.3 percent). The same poll has all the right-wing parties with a slight majority compared to the left-wing parties.

Anyway, the Social Democrats’ campaign posters cover pensions, schools (specifically, limiting profit-making free schools), crime and law and order. Climate change is conspicuously absent, but a party spokesperson told reporters it will be more prominent in its social media campaigns.

When Kristersson, on the other hand, spoke at his party’s event to kick off their election campaign, he emphasised how he’s got a viable coalition on his side – a jibe at the Social Democrats, who will struggle to get their partners (specifically the Centre and Left parties) to collaborate.

He also reiterated his praise for the Sweden Democrats, and The Local asked several experts if the Moderates are the same party that fought the 2018 election, when Kristersson promised Holocaust survivor Hédi Fried he would not cooperate with the Sweden Democrats after the election.

Election pledges

The Local’s Becky Waterton has looked at the election pledges of Sweden’s four main parties, the Social Democrats, Moderates, Sweden Democrats and Centre Party. Click here to read her guide, it’s a really useful roundup.

And what about Covid? Is Sweden’s handling of the pandemic not going to be a talking point in this election? No, at least not if the parties have their way. The Social Democrats run the government, but most of the regions (who are in charge of healthcare) are run by right-wing coalitions. So from a strictly realpolitik perspective, no party is able to attack another without putting themselves at risk of becoming a target. Best forget about it.

In other political news…

… a Sweden Democrat member of parliament has been accused of sending unsolicited dick pics to women, the Moderates want to legalise altruistic surrogacy in Sweden, the Christian Democrats want a national scheme to improve maternity care, the Liberals want to make it harder for people with a criminal record to become Swedish citizens, and Centre Party leader Annie Lööf hit the campaign trail just before the weekend by pledging to reject any proposal for raised taxes after the election.

Sweden Elects is a weekly column by Editor Emma Löfgren looking at the big talking points and issues in the Swedish election race. Members of The Local Sweden can sign up to receive the column plus several extra features as a newsletter in their email inbox each week. Just click on this “newsletters” option or visit the menu bar.

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