Sweden’s parliament elects Magdalena Andersson as first female PM – Aljazeera.com

Leader of the Social Democrat party confirmed as outgoing Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s successor.

Sweden’s parliament has confirmed Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson as the country’s first female prime minister.

The 54-year-old, who took over as leader of the governing Social Democrat party earlier this month, was elected as outgoing leader Stefan Lofven’s successor during a confirmation vote in parliament on Wednesday.

A total of 117 members of parliament voted for her, while 174 voted against her. Fifty-seven abstained.

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

Andersson, who currently serves as Sweden’s finance minister, will formally take over as prime minister following a meeting with King Carl XVI Gustaf on Friday.

Despite being a nation that has long championed 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.

Left Party deal

Andersson’s appointment came after she clinched a last-minute deal with the Left Party on Tuesday, securing key support in exchange for a pledge to raise pensions.

“We have reached an agreement to strengthen the finances of the poorest pensioners,” Andersson told public broadcaster SVT after the agreement was announced.

Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar also confirmed the deal. “We’re not going to block Andersson,” she told Swedish Radio.

Andersson had already received the support of the Greens, the Social Democrats’ coalition partner in government.

The Centre Party had said it would not block her from taking over following Lofven’s decision to step down earlier this month and risk allowing an alternative right-wing government to emerge.

Opposition hurdle

However, Centre Party leader Annie Loof said her party would not vote “yes” to the centre-left minority government’s proposed budget in a vote in parliament later on Wednesday, meaning an opposition finance bill was likely to pass.

She said the deal between the ruling coalition and the Left Party had “drawn the government further to the left”.

Three opposition parties have put forward a common budget that is likely to win parliament’s approval instead.

That means Andersson is likely to face the prospect of governing on right-of-centre budget policies, at least until spring, when the government has a chance to rework policy in a fresh budget bill.

Lofven, the outgoing prime minister, accepted such a position in 2014 but said he would not do so again before he announced his plans to resign. That move aimed was aimed at giving his successor time to prepare for the country’s September 2022 general election.

Andersson said on Wednesday she was prepared to lead even if parliament rejects the government’s budget in favour of the opposition bill.

“I am of the opinion that it [the opposition budget] as a whole is something I can live with,” she told reporters at a news conference.

But even if Andersson manages to consolidate her power base and negotiate the budget crisis, she will still face significant challenges ahead.

Gang violence and shootings blight life in many suburbs of the Swedish capital, Stockholm, and other major cities, while the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed gaps in the country’s much-vaunted welfare state, with the death rate much higher than in neighbouring Nordic countries.

The government also needs to speed up the shift to a “green” economy if it is to meet its climate change goals.

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Sweden’s parliament elects Magdalena Andersson as first female PM – Aljazeera.com

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