Swedish PM concedes defeat after tight general election

Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has conceded defeat in Sweden's general election, after the opposition right bloc gained one extra seat in Wednesday's count of late and overseas votes.

Swedish PM concedes defeat after tight general election
Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson at the press conference where she conceded the 2022 election on Wednesday. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

“It’s a thin majority, but it is a majority, so tomorrow I will therefore request my dismissal as prime minister and responsibility for the process will pass to the Speaker and the Parliament,” Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said in a press conference on Wednesday evening. 

“This is going to be a tough and complicated parliamentary term,” she said. “But the government which is going to run Sweden is going to have a good starting point.” 

She then ran through her party’s achievements in government and pointed to the fact that her party gained votes in the campaign. 

“We Social Democrats had a strong election campaign with a strong election result. The Social Democrats are not only Sweden’s biggest party, but the biggest party in Northern Europe,” she said. 

With only twenty districts left to count, the four parties supporting Ulf Kristersson for prime minister have 176 mandates to the 173 mandates held by the four parties backing Andersson. One mandate moved from the Social Democrats to the Moderates in the Wednesday count of late arriving advance votes, and overseas votes. 

Sweden’s speaker Andreas Norlén is expected to nominate Ulf Kristersson as the first person to go up for a vote in parliament to be Prime Minister.  Kristersson needs at least 175 MPs to either vote for him or abstain to be appointed.

Until then, Andersson will lead a caretaker government. In her speech, she said she would then stay on to lead her party in opposition. 

Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson said in video posted on Facebook that he was “now beginning work to set up a new, dynamic government”. 

“Sweden has an election result. The voters have spoken,” he said. “The Moderates and the other parties on my side had got the mandate for change that we asked for,” he wrote. “I will now start the work to set up a new, dynamic government.”

The party’s group leader, Tobias Billström, was the first to announce victory, writing “We won!!!” in a tweet which he then immediately deleted. Ebba Busch, leader of the Christian Democrats, then published a victory tweet. 

“We have an election result and the Swedish people have voted for a change in government,” she wrote. 

Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson, whose party is the unquestioned winner in the election, wrote in a post on Facebook that “now the work begins to make Sweden good again”. 

“These election successes, both for the blue-yellow side and for our party, bring a heavy responsibility towards the voters, he said, “and that responsibility is going to be handled in the best way and with the deepest respect.” 

“Now we can bring an end to the failed Social Democratic politics, which has continued to lead the country in the long direction for eight years. It’s time to start rebuilding public safety, welfare, and unity. It’s time to put Sweden first. The Sweden Democrats are going to be a constructive and powerful force in this work.” 

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Sweden’s electricity price subsidy now postponed until February

Households and businesses will not receive any compensation for high power prices over the last year until February at the earliest, Swedish government ministers confirmed at a press conference on Wednesday.

Sweden's electricity price subsidy now postponed until February

During the election campaign, the Moderate, Christian Democrat, and Liberal parties made a common election promise to have a system of compensation “in place” by November 1st. 

“If we win the election and Sweden receives a new government, we are are going to make sure that high-cost protection against the current extreme electricity prices for households and businesses will be in place by November 1st,” they wrote. “Household finances will be rescued in good time for Christmas. That is a common election promise.” 

But at a press conference on Wednesday morning, social insurance minister Anna Tenje said that payments would not begin until well into 2023. 

“The payments will begin in February if nothing unexpected happens,” she said. 

For businesses, the wait could be even longer. 

“The first step will be payments to households. The second stage will be payments to businesses, and that question is still being decided,” energy and business minister Ebba Busch said. 

At a press conference, Magdalena Andersson, leader of the opposition Social Democrats accused Sweden’s prime minister of “lying to the Swedish people right in the face”. 

“When it comes to high cost protection for electricity, he was very clear ahead of the election that it would be in place on November 1st,” she said. “He couldn’t explain how, but it was a clear promise to the people of Sweden and that has now been broken. It’s not as if anything has happened to explain why he couldn’t live up to the promise.” 

“Don’t make lofty promises that aren’t trustworthy. That’s what I said during the election campaign.” she added.

The Social Democrats’ energy spokesperson, Fredrik Olovsson, said that the government should give a new instruction to the country’s grid operator Svenska Kraftnät, so that even people in northern Sweden could receive the subsidy.