Sweden’s first female prime minister, Magdalena Andersson, got the worst possible start to her tenure when she was forced to resign only hours after her historic appointment.
The resignation was triggered after a junior partner to Andersson’s Social Democrats left her government over the loss of next year’s budget vote. Former finance minister at 54, she had to resign to be able to secure another chance to win the top job. She said that she was still available to head a one-party government and would now have to face a fresh vote.
This latest turmoil shows that the rise in anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats makes it difficult for coalitions to be formed. Long seen as a two-horse race between a relatively unified center-right and a bloc of left-leaning parties led by the Social Democrats, the country’s political landscape has been upended by the nationalists, whose popularity is fed by worsening gun crime and tensions over immigration.
“I understand that this may look very messy, and what has happened is completely unique,” Andersson said as she announced her resignation less than 8 hours after being appointed. “Despite the fact that the parliamentary positions appear unchanged, the issue should be tried anew. I don’t want to lead a government whose legitimacy might be questioned.”
Opinions against a plan for easing rent controls on apartments in new buildings caused the government’s collapse briefly earlier this year. Andersson’s predecessor Stefan Lofven quit in June before being reinstated, and then surprised by announcing a resignation in August. He was an ex-union leader who had the ability to create impossible alliances and wanted to work with the center to stop the Sweden Democrats getting to power.
With an election in less than 10 months, rising political instability could help nationalists get their chance at the top. However, the current polls don’t indicate that there is a clear winner.
While the junior partner, the Green Party, said it won’t be part of Andersson’s cabinet, it said it won’t block her appointment.
A center-right party that has previously supported the government refused to back Andersson’s budget in a parliamentary vote earlier on Wednesday, sealing the fate of the government’s bill in favor of a competing proposal by conservative parties.
The amendment means some of the government’s key reforms, such as an extra week off for families, are ditched in favor of more spending on the justice system and a gasoline tax cut.