Magdalena Andersson, Sweden’s first female prime minister, resigned Wednesday, hours after being voted into office. The decision to step down followed a budget defeat in parliament, as well as the Green Party’s decision to leave the minority coalition government with Andersson’s Social Democratic Party.
In a subsequent news conference following the Swedish prime minister’s quick resignation, Andersson explained why she decided to step down. “For me, it is about respect, but I also do not want to lead a government where there may be grounds to question its legitimacy,” Andersson said.
Despite stepping down from the prime minister’s position, Magdalena Andersson claimed she is still interested in leading a Social Democratic one-party government. She said she hoped to be reappointed as prime minister once there is a “single-party, Social Democrat government” to lead.
“A coalition government should resign if a party chooses to leave the government,” she explained during the news conference. “Despite the fact that the parliamentary situation is unchanged, it needs to be tried again.”
Speaker Andreas Norlen, who leads the 349-seat parliament, confirmed that he received the prime minister’s resignation early Wednesday. Norlen acknowledged that he will have to contact the party leaders “to discuss the situation” and will announce any updates on Thursday.
According to the official Twitter account for Sweden, Magdalena Andersson succeeded Stefan Löfven as both prime minister of Sweden and party leader for the Social Democrats on Wednesday morning. She was preceded by 33 men, the Twitter account pointed out. Until today, Sweden had been the only Nordic country that hadn’t had a female prime minister.
Magdalena Andersson was also the second woman to be elected Social Democratic party leader and had been Sweden’s Minister of Finance since 2014. Sweden’s Twitter account confirmed that she received her master’s degree in economics and held a job as Deputy Director-General at the Swedish Tax Agency.
The main precursor to Andersson’s resignation was a rejected budget proposal that marked her party’s defeat in parliament. The rejected budget proposal was disposed of in favor of one proposed by the opposition – right-wing populist Sweden Democrats. It has been reported that Sweden’s third-largest party is rooted in a neo-Nazi movement. The vote was 154-143 in favor of the Sweden Democrats’ budget proposal.
According to Fox News, the Sweden Democrats’ approved budget proposal was based on the government’s own proposal. The budget aimed at reducing taxes, increasing police officer salaries, as well as distributing more money to various sectors of Sweden’s judiciary system. The main difference was that of the 74 billion kronor, or USD$8.2 billion the government wanted to spend on reforms, only 20 billion kronor, or USD $2.2 billion will be distributed.
Before her resignation, Magdalena Andersson claimed that she could “govern the country with the opposition’s budget.” It has not been revealed what changed the prime minister’s mind.
The spokesperson for the Green Party, Per Bolund, said in a statement that “now the government has voted for a budget that has been negotiated by a right-wing extremist party. That is something we deeply regret.”
The Green Party’s other spokesperson, Marta Stenevi, further explained why the party resigned from the government. “We have a united party behind us saying we can not sit in a government that implements a policy (the Sweden Democrats) negotiated,” Stenevi claimed. “We must look our voters in the eye and feel pride.”
Despite Wednesday’s proceedings, the Green Party claimed that it would support Magdalena Andersson in a new vote for Sweden’s next prime minister. However, the party acknowledged that it would be in its best interest to pull support of her after the budget defeat in parliament.
The next prime minister of Sweden will face difficult hurdles including gang violence and shootings in the capital, as well as in Stockholm and other major cities. It was also noted that the prime minister would need to prepare Sweden for a massive shift to a “green” economy in order to meet the government’s climate change goals.