Copenhagen, Denmark – Sweden’s parliament on Wednesday approved Magdalena Andersson as the country’s first female prime minister, tapping the finance minister, who recently became the new leader of the Social Democratic Party.
Andersen was tapped as party leader and prime minister to replace Stefan Löfven, roles he had left earlier this year.
The development marked a milestone for Sweden, which for decades was seen as one of Europe’s most progressive countries when it comes to gender relations, but did not yet have a woman in the top political position. Löfven’s government describes itself as “feminist”, placing equality between women and men at the center of national and international action.
In a speech to parliament, Aminah Kakabawe, an independent MP who supported Andersen, said Sweden is currently celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Scandinavian country’s decision to introduce universal and equal suffrage.
“Democracy is not complete if women are only allowed to vote but are never elected to the highest office,” said Kakabawe, of Iranian Kurdish descent.
“There is something symbolic in this decision,” she said.
In the 349-seat Riksdag, 117 MPs voted yes for Andersen, 174 rejected him, while 57 abstained and one legislator abstained.
In total, the opposition cast 174 votes against Andersen but under the Swedish constitution, prime ministers can be nominated and govern unless a parliamentary majority – a minimum of 175 MPs – is against him.
Lofven is leading the Swedish government until a new government is formed, unless something is expected on Friday. Anderson will likely form a two-party, minority government with his Social Democrats and the Green Party.
Andersen, 54, sought to gain the support of two smaller parties that supported Sweden’s previous centre-left, Lofven-led minority government – the Left Party and the Center Party. Both avoided voting against Anderson.
After days of negotiations, Anderson and the Left Party reached an agreement to win the support of the latter. The deal focused on pensions and was supplemented by up to 1,000 kronor (US$111) for about 700,000 pensioners on low incomes.
Sweden’s next general election is to be held on 11 September.