Sweden Prime Minister Resigns After Elections
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
STOCKHOLM (Worthy News) – Sweden’s first female Prime Minister, Magdalena Andersson, announced her resignation Wednesday after a right-wing and far-right bloc defeated her Social Democrats in parliamentary elections.
Out of the Swedish parliament’s 349 seats, the right-wing opposition was set to win 176, thanks partly to a surge by far-right Sweden Democrats (SD), official results showed.
Andersson, the Social Democrats party leader, noted that it was a “narrow majority, but a majority nonetheless.”
The victory of the unprecedented rightwing block came as a significant setback for the leftist Social Democrats, which have been in power since 2014.
Ironically, it was the second time in less than a year that Andersson resigned as prime minister. In November last year, she stepped down after less than 12 hours in the top job as the Green Party quit their two-party coalition, stoking political uncertainty. However, she soon returned and avoided early elections at the time.
Yet she didn’t convince most voters during Sunday’s elections. Analysts said that the vote, one of the closest in modern times, reflected a desire by Swedes to move in a new direction.
Voters expressed frustration over decades of center-left policymaking that included an openness toward asylum seekers, an emphasis on individual liberties, and socially liberal ideals.
That sentiment contributed to support for the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats, which emerged as the second-most popular party in the country.
The SD, once considered an extremist party, already started talks with other right-wing parties about forming the Nordic country’s next government.
While the party’s support will be essential to the right-wing bloc maintaining its majority bloc in Parliament, commentators said it remains uncertain if the party joins the new cabinet.
During the election campaign, the bloc of right-wing parties agreed to support a government led by the center-right Moderate Party but not one by the Sweden Democrats.
That meant the new government was due to be led by Ulf Kristersson, head of the Moderates, as prime minister.
Sweden was likely to face a lengthy process to form a government, as it did after the 2018 election. The parties in the winning bloc will have to negotiate a joint government program they can all agree on.
Developments in Sweden are the last of a far-right surge in several countries of Europe at a time of mounting social and economic uncertainty with a war raging in Ukraine.
The European far-right welcomed the SD’s strong showing. “Everywhere in Europe, people aspire to take their destiny back into their own hands!” wrote Marine Le Pen, France’s far-right leader, on social media. A far-right politician is also poised to become Italy’s first female leader.
Analysts said the SD gained support by taking a tougher stance on crime, including against the rising rates of gun violence in Sweden.
It also published a 30-point plan to make Sweden’s immigration rules among the most restrictive in the European Union.
The party made clear it wants to be able to reject asylum seekers based on religion, for instance, or based on gender or sexual identity.
Critics say the election result could complicate Sweden’s standing on the world stage as it seeks membership in the NATO military alliance and tries to respond to the war in Ukraine.
Next year Sweden will also hold the rotating presidency of the European Union, where several leaders are skeptical about working with nations with a sizeable far-right presence.
Additionally, the results could undermine stability, warned Eric Adamson, a Stockholm-based project manager at the Northern Europe office of the Atlantic Council think tank.
“When you are holding on to power with one seat, it’s a cause of instability,” he told The Washington Post newspaper.
“This may make it harder for Sweden to take on a leadership role in northern Europe, in the EU, or in NATO,” he added.
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