Budget crisis threatens on day one for Sweden’s first female prime minister

  • Budget reconciliation is due after 15.00 GMT
  • The cohesion of the coalition and the support parties unravel
  • Andersson pays tribute to the role symbolism for girls in Sweden

STOCKHOLM, November 24 (Reuters) – Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson became Sweden’s first female prime minister on Wednesday, but was immediately faced with a crisis due to a budget vote that her government looks set to lose.

Andersson, 54, won approval as prime minister after reaching a last-minute deal with the former Communist Left Party. But a fragmented political landscape means her grip on power is already weak.

Parliament will have to vote on the budget some time after 1 p.m. 15.00 GMT, where her center-left-government proposal is to be rejected in favor of amendments from the center-right opposition, including tax breaks on petrol and more spending on the justice system to fight gang crime.

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While it would be a major defeat for the new government on day one, Andersson, who was finance minister under his predecessor Stefan Lofven, said she wanted soldiers on as prime minister. Read more

“I am of the opinion that it (the budget) as a whole is something I can live with,” Andersson said at a press conference.

Andersson, who became prime minister 100 years after women were first able to vote in an election in Sweden, has inherited something of a poisoned lime from Lofven.

He managed to hold together the minority coalition of their Social Democrats with the Greens, while at the same time reassuring the Left and Center parties, whose support the government also needs.

But the complex balance has now been broken, with the right-wing Center suspicious of the growing influence of the former Communist Left, and Andersson will do well to stay in power until an election to take place in September next year.

Sweden’s Minister of Finance Magdalena Andersson gives a speech after being elected party leader of the Social Democratic Party at the party’s congress, in Gothenburg, Sweden, on November 4, 2021. Adam Ihse / TT News Agency via REUTERS / File Photo

The Center Party is concerned about the agreement with the Liberal Party and has said that it will not support Andersson on the Finance Act.

“We can not support a budget from a government that is moving far to the left,” Center Party leader Annie Loof told reporters.

The Green Party said it would “consider its options” if the opposition gets the will for the budget.

Although she manages to consolidate her power base, Andersson faces significant challenges.

Gang violence and shootings ruin the lives of many major cities. Read more

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed gaps in the highly acclaimed welfare state, and the government needs to accelerate the shift to a “green” economy if it is to achieve its climate goals. Read more

Regardless of the difficulties, Andersson will go down in history as Sweden’s first female prime minister, 40 years after neighboring Norway got its first female leader and 60 years after Sri Lanka, the first country to elect a female prime minister.

“I know what that means for girls in our country,” said a visibly emotional Andersson. “I also grew up as a girl in Sweden, and Sweden is a country with gender inequality. Absolutely, I am touched by this.”

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Reporting by Simon Johnson and Johan Ahlander; Further reporting by Anna Ringstrom; Edited by Niklas Pollard and Alison Williams

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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