This is a major obstacle for Magdalena Andersson to take over from Stefan Löfven.
Two weeks ago, Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson (54) was elected the new leader of the Swedish Social Democrats.
Now she has an obstacle left to become the new Prime Minister of Sweden after Stefan Löfven. The support of SV’s Swedish sister party, Vänstern, must be secured. On Tuesday morning, he had to ask for more time to speak to Vänstern. They had not been able to agree.
There is only one year left until the elections and no one wants additional elections. Therefore, most expect her to be Sweden’s first female prime minister.
So who is she really?
Comes from the elite school
For seven years as Finance Minister, she has been one of Stefan Löfven’s most important employees. But Magdalena Andersson, Magda among friends, has a different background than her predecessor.
Stefan Löfven came from a traditional working-class background. He grew up with a host family in Sollefteå, trained as a welder and made a career in the trade union movement.
Andersson grew up in the university town of Uppsala. The parents were teachers in high school and college. When I was a teenager, I was an elite swimmer. She herself has a strong academic background, graduated with a master’s degree in economics from “Handels”, the prestigious Stockholm School of Economics. There she also met her husband, Richard Friberg, who works as an economics teacher at the school. Andersson also has Harvard studies on his CV. When he was 17, he joined the party.
However, his predecessors throughout the party’s history come from different backgrounds. That Andersson comes from academia, therefore, means nothing in itself, says Ulf Bjereld, a professor at the University of Gothenburg and himself an active social democrat.
As finance minister, you have to limit yourself a bit. So it’s hard to say how it will stand out from Löfven, says Ulf Bjereld.
– But it’s a better rhetoric and a better debater. She wants to make a stronger impression, I think.
She is described as more temperamental and harsh on rhetoric than her predecessor. She is seen as simpler than Löfven, more uncompromising and less good at “little talk.” And he has a great sense of humor, says Bjereld. But like Löfven, she is pragmatic.
– She can go a little to the left and a little to the right, depending on the circumstances, he says.
Inherits many problems
When she was elected party leader, Andersson said “every stone must be turned” in the fight against gang crime and segregation. SVT commentator Mats Ericsson said she appeared as a “Gray sauce with a stick”.
But Bjereld says no one expects her to end the crime overnight if she now becomes prime minister. On the other hand, he believes that there are high expectations in his own party that it should speak more about social issues, such as a better healthcare system. Another key issue is the fight against the possibility of private schools getting dividends.
Political scientist Therese Reitan of Södertörn University College points out that Andersson inherits a very difficult political situation if she becomes head of government.
– You need to find your contacts and which buttons you can press in contact with the other parties to avoid stepping on their toes. She must weigh the words in gold weight, says Reitan.
The 2018 elections did not give a majority to any of the traditional Riksdag blocs. Stefan Löfven therefore reached an agreement with the bourgeois Center Party and Liberal parties to retain power. Many Social Democrats believe that politics turned too blue. At the same time, the Center Party demanded that the far-left Vänstern party have no influence.
Now Vänstern has had enough and says they don’t want to be a doormat for the Social Democrats. This summer sparked a government crisis. Therefore, the left demands some concessions before supporting Andersson. They want a higher pension for the worst off. But equally important is to be seen and heard. If and when Andersson has received the blessing of the left, there will be a vote in the Riksdag.
A major obstacle
However, Reitan recalls that very little will be needed to spoil the majority needed when the Riksdag votes on a new prime minister.
– But if someone gets stuck in the elevator or gets sick, the entire vote count can be right or wrong, says Reitan.
Later, there will also be a battle over the budget, which must have the support of a majority.
Party and party
Furthermore, both Reitan and Bjereld point out that Andersson should try to rally his own party. Bjereld believes it will be his biggest challenge. It has, for example developed strong subgroups in the party that has become very strong.
– The reformist subgroup will push the party further to the left. Some believe that the group has grown too large and has become a kind of party within the party. This is the kind of thing you have to deal with, Reitan says.
In Sweden, there are many who are impatient after the country, which is considered the most egalitarian in the world, obtains a prime minister. Next year are the elections. It will be the great test of Magdalena Andersson.