Sweden’s Social Democrats elect Magdalena Andersson as new leader

Sweden's Social Democrats elect Magdalena Andersson as new leader
Magdalena Andersson, sitting between Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and her husband Richard Friberg. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT
Swedish Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson has been voted in as new leader of the Social Democrats, taking over the reins of the party from Prime Minister Stefan Löfven.

Andersson’s election came as no surprise – she was nominated as Löfven’s successor by all 26 of the Social Democrats’ party districts, and all potential rivals stood down earlier this autumn before a real leadership contest was even launched.

This likely – but not automatically – means she will become Sweden’s next and the country’s first female prime minister.

Löfven has not yet said when he will resign as prime minister, awaiting the conclusion of ongoing negotiations with the Centre Party about forests and planning permission for shorelines, but has promised that he will announce a date next week for his departure.

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Andersson will then have to pass a parliamentary vote, which requires a majority of members of parliament not to vote against her (in other words, a majority must vote for her or abstain). That’s not a 100 percent safe guarantee, given the current tight margins in parliament.

The 54-year-old economist from Uppsala has held her current position of Sweden’s finance minister since 2014, retaining the position through all three Löfven governments. She has been a member of the Social Democrats since 1983 when she joined as a 16-year-old, and has held several advisor roles in the prime minister’s office, the finance department, and senior director at the Swedish Tax Agency.

Taking the stage after she was elected to succeed Löfven at the party’s conference in Gothenburg on Thursday, she said: “I’m of course both honoured and glad and I feel a great deal of humility for the task, but above all I am hugely excited to lead our great and proud party.”

Andersson also outlined three political priorities for the coming years.

Firstly she wanted to “take back democratic control of schools, healthcare and elderly care” in the country that has long had a debate over welfare sector liberalisation and privatisation and companies being able to profit from tax funds.

Secondly she wanted Sweden to become a leader in the “climate transition” and becoming a role model for the world.

“Thirdly, I want, no I demand that we turn every stone to end segregation and smoke out the violence that threatens our entire community,” Andersson said.

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