Sweden’s parliament on Wednesday approved Magdalena Andersson as the country’s first female prime minister, appealing to the finance minister who recently became the new leader of the Social Democratic Party.
Andersson was chosen to replace Stefan Lofven as party leader and prime minister, duties he stepped down earlier this year.
This development marked a milestone for Sweden, considered for decades to be one of the most progressive countries in Europe in terms of gender relations, but which did not yet have a woman in top political office. Lofven’s government has described itself as “feminist”, placing equality between women and men at the heart of national and international work.
In a speech to parliament, Amineh Kakabaveh, an independent lawmaker who supported Andersson, noted that Sweden is currently celebrating the 100th anniversary of the decision to introduce universal and equal suffrage in the Scandinavian country.
“If women are only allowed to vote but are never elected to the highest office, democracy is not complete,” said Kakabaveh, of Iranian Kurdish origin.
“There is something symbolic in this decision,” she added.
In the 349-seat Riksdag, 117 lawmakers voted yes to Andersson, 174 rejected it while 57 abstained and one lawmaker was absent.
In total, the opposition cast 174 votes against Andersson, but under the Swedish constitution prime ministers can be appointed and govern as long as a parliamentary majority – a minimum of 175 lawmakers – is not against them.
Lofven has led the Swedish government as a guardian until a new government is formed, which is expected on Friday. Andersson will likely form a two-party minority government with his Social Democrats and the Green Party.
Andersson, 54, sought support from the two small parties that backed Sweden’s previous center-left minority government led by Lofven – the Left Party and the Center Party. Both abstained from voting against Andersson.
After days of talks, Andersson and the Left Party reached an agreement to win the latter’s support. The deal was for pensions and a supplement of up to Kroner 1,000 ($ 111) for around 700,000 low-income retirees.
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