Sweden’s New Government (2022)

Who’s in it?

At the time of writing, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has just announced her resignation. An exit poll at 8pm on Sunday had put her Left bloc (the Left Party, Greens, Social Democrats and Centre Party) ahead of the Right bloc (the Liberals, Moderates, Christian Democrats and Sweden Democrats). By the time the sun rose, however, those results had been reversed. The Right now stand on 176 seats to the Left’s 173. Though Ulf Kristersson’s Moderate party lost ground to come third (after the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats), it is he who is expected to become Sweden’s next prime minister. The Sweden Democrats will be tolerated only in a vote sharing agreement, as it is unlikely the Liberal Party (who, led by a fresh leader in Johan Pehrson, scraped into parliament with just 4.6 per cent of the vote) would accept its representatives taking cabinet roles.

With Ebba Busch’s Christian Democrats (down three seats to 19) on their tails, the Sweden Democrats had pulled discussion firmly to the right in the run up to voting. While Magdalena Andersson clawed an extra seven seats, her partners couldn’t stop the tide. Nooshi Dadgostar’s Left Party lost four seats, the Greens took 5 per cent, and the Centre Party (led by Annie Lööf, who resigned as party leader just after Andersson) lost their status as the unofficial ‘party of the countryside’. The lure of the far right has been tempting voters for years, and a recent spate of gang shootings (one of which, in the city of Ekilstuna, injured a passing mother and daughter), has led to difficult questions over the integration of Sweden’s immigrant community. For years, however, despite electoral success, the Social Democrats were sidelined by their fellow parties in the Rikstag. It wasn’t until a few years ago that Ulf Kristersson became the first party leader to acknowledge their presence. Now, indeed, it seems they’re the party who’ll install him as premier.

What does it mean?

It has been said that, as Magdalena Andersson came to power as leader of an already incumbent party, the Swedish public is yet to actually vote in a female prime minister. In practice, of course, the prime minister is never directly elected, and Andersson’s party has, in fact, seen a marked increase in support, thanks in large part to a campaign based on her ‘presidential’ image. Andersson accepted defeat on Wednesday, and formally resigned on Thursday, handing responsibility of forming a government to parliamentary speaker Andreas Norlén. Coming to power last November, as her predecessor’s leadership hit one rock too many, Andersson’s accession was no easy feat. With the Left Party out of the coalition, her budget was rejected on the first day in office, and she promptly resigned after just a few hours in the job. She was reinstalled a few hours later, but forced to rule on the opposition’s budget for months.

Despite this pretext, however, Andersson has been a largely popular prime minister, and has been praised from all sides for pushing forward Sweden’s NATO application. Announcing her resignation, Andersson said she shared the concern of voters, many of whom were shocked that a party with neo-Nazi roots was now second to her own in the vote count. Jimmie Åkesson, however, who has been leader of the Sweden Democrats since 2005, has done much to reform his party’s image. Taking votes from across the political spectrum, he toned down its xenophobic rhetoric, and has called for Sweden to be wary of continental expansionism, rather than leaving the European Union altogether. This was an election, however, he alone forced to revolve around immigration. And with a platter of pressing issues, that’s something many Swedes aren’t keen to forgive.

This article is a Fika Online exclusive.

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