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Will Sweden get its first female prime minister today?

UPDATED: Sweden's parliament is expected to confirm Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson as the country's first female prime minister on Wednesday morning after she secured a deal with the Left Party at the 11th hour.

Will Sweden get its first female prime minister today?
Sweden's soon-to-be Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson? Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

NEW: Magdalena Andersson becomes Sweden’s first female prime minister

The 54-year-old finance minister, who took over as leader of the Social Democrats earlier this month, reached a deal with the Left Party late on Tuesday to raise pensions in exchange for its backing in Wednesday’s vote in parliament.

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

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

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

Andersson has already received the support of the Social Democrats’ coalition partner the Greens, as well as the Centre Party.

The Centre Party said on Wednesday morning that they would reject the government’s budget proposal – which parliament is set to vote on in the afternoon, after the PM vote – but the party is still expected to abstain in the vote on Andersson’s prime ministerial bid.

The votes or abstentions of all the MPs of the Greens, Left and Centre, would bring Andersson to the magic majority of 175 mandates. But it’s worth noting that the right-wing parties have 174, so the margins are tight. If only one rebel MP withdraws their support, Andersson’s candidacy could fail.

The vote will take place at 9am.

If elected, Andersson would formally take over her functions following a meeting with King Carl XVI Gustaf on Friday.

She would replace Stefan Löfven, who resigned on November 10th after seven years as prime minister in a widely expected move aimed at giving his successor time to prepare for the country’s September 2022 general election.

The Social Democrats are currently hovering close to their lowest-ever approval ratings with elections less than a year away.

The right-wing opposition, led by the conservative Moderates, has in recent years inched closer to the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats and hopes to govern with its informal backing. The two parties have put forward a joint budget proposal together with the Christian Democrats.

The Centre Party’s decision to vote no to the government’s budget means that the right-wing budget proposal will likely pass, which in turn means that current Finance Minister Andersson will have to govern on the opposition’s budget.

‘Pragmatic’ technocrat

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.

After being confirmed as the Social Democrats’ leader, Andersson, a former junior swimming champion often described as “pragmatic” and a “technocratic bureaucrat”, outlined three political priorities going forward.

She said she wanted to “take back democratic control of schools, healthcare and elderly care”, and move away from welfare sector privatisation.

She also said she aimed to make Sweden a worldwide role model in climate transition.

And she vowed to end the segregation, shootings and bombings that have plagued the country in recent years, usually due to rival gangs settling scores or organised crime battling over the drug market.

The violence has mainly hit disadvantaged neighbourhoods with large immigrant populations, but has increasingly spilled over into other areas.

In 2020, 47 people were killed in 366 shootings in the country of 10.3 million people, according to official statistics. There were also 107 bombings and 102 attempted detonations.

Crime and immigration are expected to be among Swedes’ main concerns in next year’s election.

Lund University political analyst Anders Sannerstedt predicted it would be a “close race”.

“Right now four parties to the right command 174 seats (in parliament), while the four parties to the left have 175 seats. Recent polls show roughly the same,” he said.

Sannerstedt said he expected “no major changes” in policies from a government headed by Andersson.

Article by AFP’s Pia Ohlin

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2022 SWEDISH ELECTION

Sweden’s right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The four parties backing Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson as prime minister on Sunday announced that they had agreed to keep the current Speaker, Andreas Norlén in place, when the role is put to a vote as parliament opens on Monday.

Sweden's right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The parties won a three-seat majority over the bloc led by the incumbent Social Democrats in Sweden’s general election on September 11th, and are currently in the middle of negotiating how they will form Sweden’s next government. 

Sweden’s parliament meets at 11am for the official installation of the 349 MPs for this mandate period. The votes for the Speaker and three Deputy Speakers are the first item on the agenda, after which the parties each select their parliamentary leaders and then vote on who should chair each of the parliamentary committees. 

READ ALSO: What happens next as parliament reopens? 

In a joint press release announcing the decision, the parties also agreed that the Sweden Democrats would be given eight of the 16 chairmanships the bloc will have of parliamentary committees in the next parliament, and that MPs for all four parties would back Julia Kronlid, the Sweden Democrats’ Second Deputy Leader, as the second deputy Speaker, serving under Norlén. 

In the press release, the parties said that Norlén had over the last four years shown that he has “the necessary personal qualities and qualifications which the role requires”. 

The decision to retain Norlén, who presided over the 134 days of talks and parliamentary votes that led to the January Agreement in 2019, was praised by Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson. 

Norlén, she said in a statement, had “managed his responsibilities well over the past four years and been a good representative of Sweden’s Riksdag.” 

The decision to appoint Kronlid was opposed by both the Left Party and the Green Party, who said that she supported tightening abortion legislation, and did not believe in evolution.

The Green Party’s joint leader Märta Stenevi said that her party “did not have confidence in Julia Kronlid”, pointing to an interview she gave in 2014 when she said she did not believe that humans were descended from apes.

The party has proposed its finance spokesperson Janine Alm Ericson as a rival candidate. 

The Left Party said it was planning to vote for the Centre Party’s candidate for the post second deputy Speaker in the hope of blocking Kronlid as a candidate.

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