BLOG: Stefan Löfven set to be Swedish PM again after Left Party gives go-ahead

Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven has enough votes to become prime minister after the Left Party on Wednesday said it would abstain in a parliamentary vote on Friday.

BLOG: Stefan Löfven set to be Swedish PM again after Left Party gives go-ahead
Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT


14:15 Third time's the charm for Löfven?

And there we go. Speaker of parliament Andreas Norlén has now formally nominated Stefan Löfven as prime minister and we expect him to be approved by parliament in a vote on Friday.

It's been more than four months in untested waters for Sweden, but it looks like we're approaching the end. Thanks for following our political coverage and live blog – we'll keep reporting on the issues that matter to internationals in Sweden as Löfven's government takes office. If you have any stories you think we should cover, or any questions about the political process, please feel free to email [email protected].

In other news today, my colleagues live blogged the latest Brexit developments, so catch up with the latest HERE.

13:31 What's the deal with the deal?

One of the crunch issues this week was whether or not the Left Party would accept the Social Democrats' move to the right to enter into a collaboration of sorts with the Centre and Liberals (and Greens). Löfven, a former trade union boss who is described as a master negotiator by supporters and opponents alike (although they might use slightly different words to refer to this), got their acceptance at the eleventh hour.

Löfven was quizzed at the press conference about whether or not there exists a written document outlining which issues he and the Left Party will work together on, after Left leader Jonas Sjöstedt hinted as much. He clearly did not want to say and instead kept referring back to the 16-page deal with the centre-liberals.

You can expect pretty much all journalists in Sweden to start putting in freedom of information requests for what they have already started referring to as a “secret deal” between the Social Democrats and the Left.

13:20 PM vote on Friday

Parliament will now vote on Löfven on Friday, and assuming that they tolerate him as prime minister he is set to present his government on Monday, probably addressing the chamber at 11am, said the speaker.

13:05 'Never thought it would be this difficult'

“This has been an autumn like no other in Swedish politics,” says speaker Andreas Norlén at a press conference attended by The Local. He says he realized immediately after the September 9th election left the country divided that forming a government would be a difficult challenge, “but I never thought it would be this difficult and take this long”.

He'll formally nominate Stefan Löfven as prime minister at 2pm today.

12:58 Press conference coming soon

We're now waiting for speaker of parliament Andreas Norlén to hold his scheduled press conference at 1pm. Prime minister candidate Stefan Löfven is also expected to be there.

12:10 Green policies in the four-party deal

The leaders of the Green Party, who will stay in government with the Social Democrats, have now reiterated their support for Stefan Löfven as prime minister. They are the smallest party in parliament and had a rather terrible election, so most of the reporters in the room have lost interest by now. They have probably already left for their lunch break before the speaker of parliament's press conference at 1pm. Left-wing or right-wing or no government at all, the Swedes will never surrender their one-hour-long lunch break.

Here's our explainer about the four-party deal, by the way (for Members).

11:53 'The most stable solution'

Jan Björklund of the Liberal Party has now spoken about his party's role in the deal with the Social Democrats, Greens and Centre. He did not want to describe them as a support party of the Social Democrats, but as a party collaborating with them on some issues and opposing them on others.

“It's by far the most stable solution,” he said.

11:20 'Unholy alliance'

We have just heard from Ulf Kristersson of the Moderate Party, who is understandably not happy about today's developments. The conservative leader was Löfven's main rival for the prime minister role.

“The Centre and Liberals seem to become supporting parties. The clause that the Left Party should not be given influence has been destroyed. Stefan Löfven has guaranteed that Sjöstedt will get influence. It is an unbelievable message. The Centre and Liberals have been lured into a deal. This is an absurd government formation,” Kristersson told reporters at a press conference attended by The Local.

Kristersson also pointed out that Löfven will now become prime minister after having been rejected by parliament twice (in a vote of no confidence just after the election and in a prime minister vote before Christmas). Of course, Kristersson has also lost a prime minister vote, so hi pot, meet kettle.

The Christian Democrats' Ebba Busch Thor was also not particularly pleased to have lost her former centre-right allies, the Centre and Liberals, to the Social Democrats. It's an “unholy alliance”, she said.

11:02 What happens next?

So what does all of this mean? Well, as Stefan Löfven himself said earlier: “It ain't over 'til it's over.”

The Social Democrat leader will first need to be formally nominated by the speaker of parliament and then accepted by parliament, which we can most probably assume is simply a matter of formality at this stage.

Speaker Norlén is set to nominate Löfven at 2pm this afternoon, after a press conference at 1pm. Parliament will then vote on Friday, and because we now know that not enough MPs will vote against Löfven (unless we get an unexpected rebellion in several parties), he will then become prime minister.

In all likelihood Löfven will then give his government policy statement (regeringsförklaring) in parliament on Monday. This usually happens shortly after the election, but better late than never et cetera et cetera.

To catch up with everything that has happened since the election, here's our handy timeline.

10:55 'We are the left-wing opposition'

Left Party leader Jonas Sjöstedt just said that after speaking with Stefan Löfven yesterday, they had agreed on a number of areas where his party may have political influence in the next four years. They also disagreed on some points, and the deal Löfven struck with the Greens, Centre and Liberals will remain intact.

He added that although his party does not support the deal, they do want Löfven as prime minister. The Left Party and the Social Democrats have a history of working together in parliament. Sjöstedt argued that if his MPs were to vote no to Löfven on Friday, they would end up with a conservative government.

He did say though that if Löfven allows the centre-right to push through further reforms on for example deregulating the housing market or workers' rights, he won't hesitate to put forward a vote of no confidence.

The Local's Europe Editor Catherine Edwards is live tweeting from parliament:

10:31 Left Party abstains

Left Party leader Jonas Sjöstedt has just said it will abstain in a vote on Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven as prime minister on Friday. This means Löfven has enough votes to lead the next government.

We'll have more for your shortly.

10:15 Centre Party to abstain in PM vote

Annie Lööf of the Centre Party repeats what she said last week, that her party will abstain in a vote on Stefan Löfven, thereby allowing him to become prime minister (whether he gets enough votes still depends on the Left Party, though, so it's not over yet), after a four-party centre-left-liberal deal was struck.

FOR MEMBERS: What would Sweden's proposed government deal mean for internationals?

Annie Lööf speaking to reporters in parliament on Wednesday. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

9:56 Who are the kingmakers in Swedish politics?

The Local's Europe Editor Catherine Edwards has an unusual take on the Swedish government situation:

Joking aside, it is interesting how the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats were widely pegged as the kingmakers of this election in the run-up to Sweden's September 9th vote. Instead, the parties that actually seem to have had the most influence when it comes to “picking” the next prime minister have been the far more internationally-minded Centre Party, the Liberal Party – and now the Left Party.

Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson just told reporters that he thinks Stefan Löfven will become prime minister, not that he necessarily sees that as a good thing. He did say though that he would relish the opportunity to be in opposition next to the right-wing Moderates and the Christian Democrats and rejected the view of his party as a fringe party. “Everyone else is strange, we're normal,” he said.

READ ALSO: Just how far-right are the Sweden Democrats?

Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

9:25 And then there's Brexit

I've been told that it's apparently quite an important day in the UK as well, ahem. The Local's Brexit correspondent Alex Macbeth is live blogging all the latest over on Follow that live blog HERE.

LIVE: Reactions across Europe to May's crushing defeat

Demonstrators outside the House of Commons in London on Tuesday. Photo: AP Photo/Frank Augstein

9:15 Löfven 'ready' to stand for office

“I am ready to let myself be nominated as prime minister and thus hold a vote on Friday,” said Stefan Löfven after his meeting with parliamentary speaker Andreas Norlén on Wednesday morning.

He would however not comment on if he expects to win such a vote in parliament, which would depend on whether or not the Left Party has decided to throw its support (or reluctant acceptance) behind him.

“That's for Jonas Sjöstedt to say,” he told reporters.

Sjöstedt, the Left Party leader, is expected to reveal his party's decision after his own meeting with the speaker in an hour.

FOR MEMBERS: What would Sweden's proposed government deal mean for internationals in Sweden?

What would Sweden's proposed government deal mean for internationals in Sweden?
Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Sweden will find out on Wednesday whether Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven will be proposed as prime minister in a parliamentary vote on Friday.

The question of whether he would succeed in the vote depends on the Left Party.

A proposed agreement which would see a Social Democrat-Green Party government with backing from former opposition rivals the Centre and Liberal parties requires the support of the Left's 28 MPs in order to pass, but explicitly excludes that party from political influence.

On Wednesday morning, the leaders of Sweden's political parties will meet with parliamentary speaker Andreas Norlén, beginning with Löfven at 8.30am.

Norlén will then speak to press at 1pm before formally proposing a prime ministerial candidate to parliament one hour later. This process has been delayed by two days to allow for more time for cross-party talks after Left Party leader Jonas Sjöstedt said on Monday that his party would not support the proposed deal “if the situation remains unchanged”.

Since then, the Left Party has held a board meeting on Tuesday evening and was holding a second meeting on Wednesday morning.

Löfven and Sjöstedt have held talks but neither have commented openly on what the discussions have involved. Nor has Sjöstedt revealed exactly what changes or reassurances he would need in order for his party to allow Löfven to govern.

On Monday, Sjöstedt said: said: “There are some unreasonable aspects that need to be dealt with first. We are looking for routes forward. We are going to use the coming days to find solutions, which I'm convinced Löfven also wants.”

Löfven said said that it would be possible to cooperate with the Left Party on political issues not included in the four-party agreement, but that the agreement itself could not be changed.

Any potential Swedish government does not need a majority of MPs to vote in its favour in order to govern; the system of negative parliamentarism instead just requires that a majority does not vote against it. This system, which favours the formation of minority governments, means that parties can give 'passive support' such as abstaining in the prime ministerial vote, allowing the government to pass.

The number of votes on prime ministerial candidates that can be held before a second election is forced is capped at four. The vote planned for Friday would be the third such vote, after both Löfven and Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson have earlier been rejected by parliament.

To catch up with everything that has happened since the election, CLICK HERE. And if you have any questions about the process, log in to comment below.

Member comments

  1. The Left (formerly friends) with the PM have gotten screwed with this deal, it’s going to be interesting to see if they are willing to fold while getting almost nothing in return.

  2. “Unholy alliance” seems to sum it up properly.

    Another way would be mixing oil, water and sand.

    Another 4 years of Stefan L, I really feel sorry for the Swedish people.

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For members


Politics in Sweden: Sexual abuse allegations, ‘big drama’ and Vikings

Here's the roundup of the week in Swedish politics, in the latest edition of The Local's Politics in Sweden column.

Politics in Sweden: Sexual abuse allegations, 'big drama' and Vikings

The perhaps biggest story in Swedish politics this week is European Parliament member Sara Skyttedal’s accusation that a party colleague sexually abused her nine years ago.

Skyttedal, for those who don’t know, is a high-profile and famously outspoken member of the right-wing Christian Democrat party and the former leader of its youth wing.

She recently reported party colleague Johan Ingerö to the police, a report which was dropped because the statute of limitations had expired on the alleged 2014 incident.

Ingerö is also a high-profile member of the party, a former head of press and policy analyst who was appointed party secretary (the person who is responsible for the day-to-day political work, second in rank only to the party leader) after the 2022 election.

He denies Skyttedal’s allegations. She claims she was woken up in a hotel room in Stockholm by his hand on her thigh, which she tried to remove several times. It was only when she shouted and physically pushed him off that he left her alone, she says.

Ingerö quit his post shortly after the story emerged, but party leader Ebba Busch told media that the reason for his departure was not the sexual abuse allegations.

Instead, she said the party needed someone with “different strengths” as party secretary, as the party makes the transition from a campaigning opposition party to a member of the government.

A separate recent conflict with Ingerö is what prompted Skyttedal to file the police report (according to Ingerö, she did so as revenge; according to Skyttedal, she did so because his aggression when discussing the issue reawakened memories and made her want to stand up for herself).

That conflict was sparked when Skyttedal in an interview with the ETC newspaper revealed that she had smoked cannabis during her time as an MEP to combat depression, in a country where such use is legal (which it isn’t in Sweden).

She then did a long interview with public broadcaster SVT, in which she said that she believed Sweden should decriminalise cannabis – a position that runs directly counter to the official position of the Christian Democrats, which resulted in party leader Busch saying Skyttedal would not be able to represent the party if she kept using cannabis.

A side effect is that cannabis is now top of the agenda in Swedish politics.

Most political parties are vehemently against changing Sweden’s “zero tolerance” approach to legalising cannabis, despite even the Public Health Agency calling for at least an inquiry into the ban. Here’s an article from The Local’s archive which explains the debate – and how likely it is that Sweden will ever legalise cannabis.

Is Sweden heading for another government crisis?

The words “government crisis” became almost synonymous with former Prime Minister Stefan Löfven’s fragile-yet-relatively-long-lasting rule, which created and saw a series of coalition agreements fall while his minority government fended off more no-confidence votes than anyone else in Swedish history.

The Sweden Democrats’ finance spokesperson Oscar Sjöstedt last week hinted that current Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson could face a similar fate if the government and the far-right party do not agree on by how much to lower the so-called “reduction obligation”.

The reduction obligation mandates fuel suppliers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their fuels. The current reduction obligation means that diesel emissions must be reduced by 30.5 percent and petrol by 7.8 percent. The Sweden Democrats want to cut that to zero.

Sjöstedt vowed that failure to agree would spark “big drama, I can tell you that”.

Why Vikings have sparked political turbulence in a small Swedish town

Speaking of government crises.

The local coalition in Hässleholm in southern Sweden is falling apart, after the council’s Sweden Democrat mayor got embroiled in a conflict involving an elderly care home, the alleged hiring of something close to hitmen and a Viking village.

A Viking association run by local businessman Oddvar Lönnerkrantz is accusing mayor Hanna Nilsson of trying to hire him as muscle to put pressure on a resident who was attempting to block the council’s purchase of a building for an elderly care home.

Lönnercrantz told the news site Frilagt that he understood it as Nilsson suggesting that they threaten or assault the man to get him to drop his appeal against the purchase.

Nilsson on the other hand denies those allegations and instead claims Lönnerkrantz has been trying to blackmail her.

The Moderates and the Christian Democrats have now pulled out of Hässleholm’s coalition government with the Sweden Democrats, calling on Nilsson to resign.

Politics in Sweden is a weekly column by Editor Emma Löfgren looking at the big talking points and issues in Swedish politics. Members of The Local Sweden can sign up to receive an email alert when the column is published. Just click on this “newsletters” option or visit the menu bar.