For members


Who is Magdalena Andersson, the woman likely to be Sweden’s next prime minister?

After Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven stepped down as party leader, the search is on for his replacement. Here's a look at the strong favourite for the role, and what needs to happen for her to become PM.

Who is Magdalena Andersson, the woman likely to be Sweden's next prime minister?
Will Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson become the next Swedish prime minister? Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

The current Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson looks likely to be selected as Löfven’s successor.

She’s had her current job during all three Löfven governments, and previously held several high-ranking posts both in the Finance Ministry as well as being senior director at the Swedish Tax Agency.

You’re most likely to recognise her from Sweden’s budget announcements, when she can be seen carrying the document wrapped in blue and yellow ribbon.

A trained economist, she studied at Stockholm School of Economics, in Vienna, and at Harvard University in the US. In her younger years, she was a competitive swimmer.

A few things need to happen before she officially replaces Löfven, and that doesn’t mean she’d automatically become PM.

There are 26 “party districts” for the Social Democrats in Sweden, and so far four of them have nominated Andersson as the party’s next leader: Fyrbodal, Halland, Skaraborg and the powerful Skåne district. The party’s youth wing has also said it’s backing Andersson.

She has been tight-lipped about her potential new job though, refusing to comment to the TT newswire on the process or even whether the districts asked her whether she wanted the role. Districts are not required to speak directly to their nominee, and Halland and Skaraborg have both said they didn’t have contact with the Finance Minister.

In fact, no Social Democrat has openly declared an interest in becoming prime minister, with most senior ministers referring to the role of the Nomination Committee. Other possible candidates would be Justice and Migration Minister Morgan Johansson and Interior Minister Mikael Damberg for example, but Andersson has emerged as the clear front-runner. She also has the most support from Social Democrat voters by far, according to a Novus survey carried out for SVT in August where almost half of respondents said Andersson was their preferred leader.

The districts have until October 1st to submit their choice, and the election will take place at the party congress in early November in Gothenburg. This will also be the moment when current Prime Minister Stefan Löfven will request resignation.

But to actually take up the role as head of government, Andersson would then need to pass a parliamentary vote, which requires a majority of MPs not to vote against her (in other words, a majority must vote for her or abstain). That’s not a safe guarantee, given the current tight margins in parliament.

If she is voted in by parliament, Andersson will have two immediate challenges. The first is the autumn budget, where the government may be at a disadvantage since the Liberal Party left the four-party agreement that allowed previous government budgets to be passed. And the other major task would be preparing for the September 2022 election, where the Social Democrats will be hoping to recover some of the losses made in its 2018 result, the worst in a century for the centre-left.

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For members


Did Sweden’s PM play politics in his speech to the nation?

After what was arguably Sweden's worst ever week of gang violence, the country's Prime Minister, Ulf Kristersson, delivered a solemn address to the nation. But how much was he seeking to unite and how much playing party politics?

Did Sweden's PM play politics in his speech to the nation?

It is a rare event for a Swedish Prime Minister to make a televised speech to the nation. 

Kristersson’s Social Democrat predecessor Magdalena Andersson delivered one in the tense days after Russia invaded Ukraine. Stefan Löfven made two during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Aside from those, it has only been the one Göran Persson delivered after the assassination of Sweden’s foreign minister, Anna Lindh, and the one Carl Bildt delivered as the Laser Man serial killer was shooting random immigrants across the country. 

The idea of such a speech is for the Prime Minister to unite the Swedish people, to provide stability, calm and a sense of direction at a time of crisis. 

Kristersson started his speech last Thursday fully in this tradition, with a simple, grave statement: “It is a difficult time for Sweden.” 

But after hard-hitting descriptions of the worst of the week’s killings, be began to point the blame, and it wasn’t he or his government who were at fault.  

“In fact, many of us saw it coming, and gave warning,” he said. “Serious organised crime has been emerging for more than a decade. Over a ten-year period, gun violence has increased threefold. Political naivety and cluelessness have brought us to this point. Irresponsible immigration policy and failed integration have brought us to this point.” 

The message was clear. The fault lay with the “political naivety” of the previous two Social Democrat-Green coalition governments, and just possibly also with the two Moderate Party-led right-wing alliance governments that preceded them. 

If only they had listened to the calls for tighter immigration coming at that time (then only really from the far-right Sweden Democrats), Sweden would not be in this situation. 

Tomas Ramberg, political commentator for the liberal-left Dagens Nyheter newspaper, complained that this was “not a speech to rally the country across political divides.” 

“Addresses to the nation are rare in Swedish politics. They have been seen as a way to unify the country,” he wrote. “Ulf Kristersson used it to convince people that the government is in control of the situation. But also to try to gather greater support for the government.” 

But even many commentators on the right criticised how politicised the speech was. 

“Let’s just say this: I believe citizens could have done with a prime minister’s speech, not the closing statement of a party leader debate in [current affairs programme] Agenda,” complained Peter Wennblad, assistant opinion editor of the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper and a leading right-wing opinion former. 

“I believe Ulf Kristersson would have benefited from holding his speech as a Prime Minister and not as a Moderate,” wrote Moa Berglöf, the former speechwriter for the previous Moderate Party prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, on X. 

Sweden’s prime minister is not alone in playing politics with gang crime, of course. 

The Social Democrats held a press conference on Wednesday in which the party accused the government of having done nothing to combat gang crime.  

“In the election campaign, the government parties promised a new crackdown on the gangs but we’ve seen none of that,” the party wrote in its press release. “Deadline after deadline has passed with no proposals for new laws.” 

Magdalena Andersson, leader of the Social Democrats, called for the government to bring in the military, something Kristersson then promised to do in his speech.

For this, you can hardly blame them. In the election campaign Kristersson, Christian Democrat leader Ebba Busch and Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson all criticised the government relentlessly for failing to stop gang violence. 

In June 2022, the Moderates and Christian Democrats even backed a no-confidence vote launched by the Sweden Democrats to depose the then justice minister, Morgan Johansson, with Åkesson writing on X, that the Social Democrats’ soft “juice and sticky bun policies” towards criminals had helped turn Sweden into “a gangsterland”. 

“The only people who are pleased with the government’s work are the criminals, those who murder, harm and threaten,” Kristersson wrote. 

It would be naive to expect the Social Democrats to forfeit the chance to get their own back for the ruthless way in which the three right-wing parties exploited the issue.

Similarly, now Kristersson has the near impossible task of combatting gang crime, it is hardly surprising that he should want to remind the public again and again that the shootings and explosions started long before he took power.  

Ideally, the government and opposition would unite, create a cross-party commission, and work together to reduce gang crime, depoliticising the issue and opening the way for evidence-based policies that have a better chance of working. 

Might it happen? One day perhaps. But certainly not yet.