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When will Sweden get a new prime minister?

Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has resigned. Her expected successor, Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson, has not yet been approved in parliament. So, who's running the country?

When will Sweden get a new prime minister?
Magdalena Andersson handing over her resignation to speaker Andreas Norlén. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Social Democrat leader Andersson formally resigned on September 15th as the final votes in the September 11th election were counted, giving the right-wing bloc a narrow three-seat majority, 176 seats to the left bloc’s 173.

However, her expected successor, Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson has not yet been approved in parliament. Who is leading the country, and when will Kristersson take over?

The short answer is: Andersson will lead a caretaker government until the process of transferring power from the left bloc to the right is completed.

When will this happen?

The long answer is that there are a few steps which need to occur before that can happen.

First off, parliament’s speaker Andreas Norlén (or his successor, if a different speaker is elected by the new parliament) needs to task someone with forming a government. Has now done this, giving the task to Ulf Kristersson who is in negotiations with the other parties in his bloc to try and build enough support for a right-wing government with him as prime minister.

Parliament will then need to vote on Kristersson’s prime ministerial candidacy, with him needing to achieve at least 175 votes either approving his candidacy or abstaining from voting in order to succeed.

Following the last election in 2018, this process took 134 days, finally ending in a January Agreement – a 73-point policy document between the Social Democrats, Green Party, Centre Party and Liberals outlining policies the government must adopt in return for their support. On average, however, this process takes 19 days.

The right bloc also has a slightly larger majority in this election than the red bloc did last election: three seats to the red bloc’s one-seat majority in 2018. In addition to this, they campaigned on the basis of governing together with support from the Sweden Democrats, so the chance of the four parties coming to an agreement look promising.

Despite this, the process won’t be easy for Kristersson – the four parties disagree on many issues, as well as the question of which parties should be in government, which could complicate the process of forming a government.

The earliest possible date by which Kristersson could be nominated by the speaker for a prime ministerial vote is September 27th, when parliament opens. In this nomination, the speaker must also state which parties are expected to form the government. Therefore, this will not happen until negotiations within the four right-wing parties are complete and it is clear which parties will be included in government.

The prime ministerial vote can then occur no earlier than four days after a candidate has been nominated by the speaker, meaning the absolute earliest date possible for this vote is October 1st, although this will occur later if governmental negotiations take longer than expected.

If Kristersson is approved as Sweden’s new prime minister, his government will have to meet with the King for a skifteskonselj – a change-of-government cabinet meeting at the Royal Palace, typically a few days after the prime ministerial vote.

That is when the transition of power formally takes place, and the new government does not take up its duties until after that meeting.

So, Magdalena Andersson will remain Sweden’s prime minister leading a caretaker government until at least October 1st, maybe longer if the process of negotiating a new government drags on. In this period, her government will deal with routine issues, but will not propose any new legislation.

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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.