UPDATE: Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven to resign

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced on Sunday that he will step down as party leader this autumn, a year ahead of Sweden’s next election.

UPDATE: Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven to resign
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven giving a speech on August 22nd. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Former trade union chief Löfven took the reins of the Social Democrats in 2012 and led his party to two successful elections in 2014 and 2018. But a new leader will take over ahead of the 2022 election, Löfven said in a speech on Sunday.

He will step down at the party’s congress in November.

Löfven, 64, came into politics after heading up one of Sweden’s most powerful trade unions, IF Metall, following a career as a welder.

He is known for his negotiation skills, and he’s had ample opportunity to flex them during his tenure, but the party has been struggling in the polls.

Just months after taking power, his party failed to push its budget through, and Löfven called a snap election, but this was cancelled after crisis talks. In the next election in 2018, his party got its worst result in over a century, and it took four months of negotiations before a new government was put together.

Earlier this summer, he became Sweden’s first prime minister in history to lose a no-confidence vote, following a row over rent controls. However, the opposition was unable to form a viable coalition to take over, and so Löfven returned to the helm again, only two weeks later.

Löfven announced his resignation at his annual summer speech, this year held in Åkersberga near Stockholm.

“The decision has matured over time. I have been party chairman for ten years, prime minister for seven. These years have been amazing. But everything comes to an end. I want to give my successor the best of conditions,” he said.

Löfven has led a weak minority government together with the Greens Party for the past three years, struggling to find a workable coalition following the inconclusive elections of September 2018.

The announcement of his resignation came nonetheless as a surprise, as Löfven had previously indicated he wanted to lead the party in the next election campaign.

But Ewa Stenberg, political commentator at Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, said it was a wise decision on his part.

“Lofven’s not a good election campaigner or debater, he’s not the leader the Social Democrats need in a tough election campaign where rhetoric is important,” she wrote.

“Against that background, it’s logical that he hands over to someone who’s better with words and who can spark enthusiasm.”

Woman as next PM?
It is not yet known who will succeed Löfven as party leader, though Stenberg and other political commentators speculated that Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson was a hot tip.

Andersson has held the finance portfolio for seven years, and has on occasion stood in for the prime minister.

Health Minister Lena Hallengren, who like Andersson enjoys relatively high ratings among the public, especially for her handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, was also mentioned as a possible successor.

Despite being a longstanding champion of women’s rights and gender equality, Sweden, unlike its Nordic neighbours, has yet to have a woman prime minister.

Whoever is elected to succeed Löfven as party leader would have to be approved by parliament in order to take over as prime minister.

Since coming to power in 2014, Löfven has weathered the decline of social democracy in Europe, the rise of the far right and even the pandemic.

Member comments

  1. You can’t first say “Löfven […] led his party to two successful elections in 2014 and 2018” and then a few lines further down in the same article write “[…] in 2018, his party got its worst result in over a century, and it took four months of negotiations before a new government was put together.” The 2018 election was hardly “successful” but instead was a downright godawful disaster for both Löfven and his social-democrat party, and indeed for Sweden as a whole.

    The only thing Löfven has done in the last seven years is to sell Sweden down the river to the extremist 4-percent Miljöpartiet, and would not be in power at all if it wasn’t for the Centre and Liberal parties’ betrayal of their own electorate.

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Iran demands Sweden act against Quran burnings, free prisoner

Iran has demanded Sweden take action over Quran burnings before the two countries can exchange ambassadors again, and urged it to release a jailed Iranian citizen, the foreign ministry said Sunday.

Iran demands Sweden act against Quran burnings, free prisoner

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian discussed the Koran issue with his Swedish counterpart Tobias Billstrom on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the foreign ministry said.

“Regarding the exchange of ambassadors, we are waiting for good action on the issue of the Holy Quran in Sweden,” Iran’s top envoy told Billstrom in New York, the Iranian ministry said in a statement.

Sweden has seen a series of public burnings of the Islamic holy book. Stockholm has voiced condemnation but said it cannot stop acts protected under laws on free expression.

Iran said in July it would not allow a new Swedish ambassador into the country after the mission of the last envoy ended.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi days ago held up a Koran at the UN rostrum and declared that “the fires of disrespect will not overcome the divine truth”, also condemning “Islamophobia and cultural apartheid” in the West.

Amir-Abdollahian told his Swedish counterpart that “defending the values of Sweden at the cost of ignoring the values of two billion Muslims in the world is unacceptable”.


He also urged Stockholm to release Hamid Noury, an Iranian arrested in November 2019 and sentenced to life in prison after being convicted over the mass executions of prisoners ordered by Tehran in 1988.

“We expect that the Swedish government will make a wise and courageous decision in the appeal stage and release Mr Noury,” the minister said, adding that “we are ready for positive and constructive cooperation in various fields”.

The statement did not address Swedish nationals incarcerated in Iran, including the EU diplomat Johan Floderus, 33, who has been detained for more than 500 days.

In July last year, Iran announced it had arrested a Swede on suspicion of espionage, and earlier this month Iran’s judiciary stated that the Swedish citizen had committed crimes Iran.

Another Iranian-Swedish citizen, the academic Ahmadreza Djalali, is at risk of being hanged after a conviction on the charge of “corruption on earth” in Iran, which does not recognise dual nationality. He was sentenced to death in 2017 for allegedly spying for Israel, an accusation his family vehemently rejects.

In May, Iran hanged another Swedish-Iranian, Habib Chaab, on a terrorism conviction, drawing strong condemnation from Sweden. Chaab, an Iranian dissident, had been held in the Islamic republic since October 2020 after he vanished during a visit to Turkey.

Chaab had also been convicted of “corruption on earth” after being found guilty of heading a rebel group accused of staging attacks in Iran since 2005.

Iran executes more people yearly than any other nation except China, according to human rights groups including Amnesty International.