In Sweden it is common for a coalition government to step down when a party leaves the coalition. Andersson said she did not want to lead a government whose legitimacy would be called into question. The 54-year-old now hopes to be able to return with a purely social democratic minority government – and she pointed out that the Greens still wanted to support her as Prime Minister.
Parliamentary President Norlen approved the Social Democrat’s request for dismissal and announced that he would now contact the party leaders to discuss the situation. He will provide information on how to proceed on Thursday afternoon.
Greens against opposition budget
The reason for the Greens’ exit was that parliament in Stockholm approved an alternative budget proposal from the opposition on Wednesday. For the first time, the Stockholm Reichstag approved a state budget that was negotiated “with a right-wing extremist party,” said one of the two green party leaders, Per Bolund, at a press conference.
He was referring to the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats, who, together with the moderates and the Christian Democrats, are behind the alternative budget. Bolund’s co-chair, Märta Stenevi, said her party agreed that she could not sit in a government that was being forced to pursue policies that had been negotiated with the Sweden Democrats. “We need to be able to look our voters in the eye,” she said.
How it will continue is unclear. The majority in the Reichstag has been extremely fragile since the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats gained strength: the red-green jointly only holds 116 of the 349 seats in parliament, so the opposition could have blocked Andersson’s way with a clear majority. The Center Party and the Left abstained, however. This just confirmed Andersson. The agreement with the Left Party was only reached on Tuesday evening.
Due to the narrow majority, the vote was extremely tight: 174 MPs voted against her – 175 no votes in the 349-seat parliament would have been necessary to block her way into the office of head of government. Andersson had recently received an exploratory mandate to form a government from Parliament President Andreas Norlen. At the beginning of the week, Norlen finally proposed her for the highest political office in the country.
Lots of construction sites
The previous head of government Stefan Löfven, who has been in office since 2014, submitted his resignation two weeks ago. The list of challenges is long: On the one hand, the pandemic, in which Sweden chose a special route with comparatively relaxed measures, is far from over in the far north of the EU. On the other hand, the Scandinavian country has been wrestling with rampant gang crime for a long time.
Falling values and dismantled taboos
Andersson is faced with a difficult task in other respects as well: In polls, the Social Democrats are approaching their lowest approval ratings in history. On the other hand, the Conservatives have given up their clear demarcation from the Sweden Democrats and are ready to govern together with them. That would create new, previously not possible majority relationships.
Observers see this as the reason for Löfven’s surprising decision to give up his post as Prime Minister less than a year before the parliamentary elections. His resignation gives Andersson and the party the opportunity to reposition themselves and to campaign under new leadership.
Close friends of Löfven
Andersson is a close confidante of the former head of government and yet has a completely different background than the former metalworker union Löfven: At 16, she joined the Social Democrats. During her studies at the elite Stockholm School of Commerce, she got involved in the party youth organization. In 1996 she became an employee of the then Prime Minister Göran Persson.
Since then she has switched between party offices and high officials. At first she was part of the left wing of the party, according to experts – but she fully supported the “pragmatic” change of course of the Social Democrats towards the political center.