The Swedish Parliament (Riksdag) voted in Magdalena Andersson, party leader of the Social Democratic Party, as Sweden’s first female prime minister this morning (24 November).
Her election has come after hard negotiations with Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar, who wanted policy guarantees especially in social matters. In fact, the Löfven government fell earlier this year due to a vote of no-confidence motioned by Nooshi Dadgostar over the issue of adopting market rental rates for public housing.
The previous prime minister, Stefan Löfven, has his re-election delayed by half a year due to an evenly split parliament causing bitter arguments on government formation.
Significance in the context of Swedish feminism
Sweden is known for its feminism, with females being able to achieve high social status and career in all fields of society. The government has been active in education and international promotion in terms of rights of females, LGBTQ+ and other minorities, even terming it as feminist foreign policy. Problems such as rape and domestic violence do still exist, and so is the gender pay gap, but wider and deeper social awareness in Sweden means that there has been great social progress in the matter.
Strangely, Sweden has never had a female prime minister before, despite having two reigning queens, Christina (reigned 1632-1654) and Ulrika Eleonora (reigned 1718-1720). Queen Christina was particularly famous for her independent personality, as well as her refusing to marry, her abdication, subsequent conversion to Catholicism, and her stay in Rome as a great patron of the arts. Her life, as well as having an intimate female friend Ebba Sparre, meant that she has become a modern symbol of feminism and LGBTQ+ rights.
In this context, the election of Magdalena Andersson is therefore significant for Swedish society.
How is the Swedish prime minister elected?
Sweden has a parliamentary-based political system, but with differences from the Westminster system.
The prime minster is elected by a vote of the 350-seat Riksdag, but the vote is considered inversely, i.e. as long as the number of nays do not reach 175 (half of the Riksdag), the prime minster is elected without regard for the number of yays or blank votes.
Stefan Löfven resigned as prime minster and Social Democrat leader after he lost the no-confidence vote this year, in order to bring in new leadership for his party in preparation for the 2022 elections.
Magdalena Andersson was Finance Minister in Stefan Löfven’s most recent cabinet. Her position as Prime Minister will continue until before general elections in September next year.