Sweden’s Andersson En Route to Premiership After Party Vote
(Bloomberg) -- Sweden’s Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson was elected party leader of the ruling Social Democrats, paving the way for her to become the nation’s first female prime minister.
Andersson, 54, who has been finance minister since 2014, was elected at the party’s congress in Gothenburg on Thursday. She still faces an uncertain vote in parliament, where the government only controls about a third of the seats, before she can succeed current premier, Stefan Lofven, who is stepping down after almost a decade at the helm of the party.
Her remaining hurdle reflects the largest Nordic nation’s fractured political landscape where the far-right Sweden Democrats are inching closer to power as a surge in gang-related shootings and bombings bolsters the chances of the Conservative-led opposition ahead of the scheduled elections in 10 months.
After entering the stage to the tones of late Swedish superstar Avicii, Andersson told enthusiastic party members that she would seek bringing schools, health care and elderly care “back under democratic control.” Sweden also needs to lead the climate transition and end segregation and violence, she said.
The first challenge facing Andersson, who has called herself Europe’s most frugal finance minister, comes from sections within her own party that want to tear up Sweden’s budget rules to allow for more spending on climate initiatives and propping up Sweden’s welfare system in the wake of the pandemic.
A substantial opposition within the party is calling for creating a separate investment budget to allow larger outlays. That idea has been firmly rejected by Andersson, who argues that it would merely amount to changing accounting methods rather than creating additional resources. Instead, the new party leader wants to scrap the country’s current surplus target in favor of keeping the state budget in balance over a business cycle.
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