Magdalena Andersson, the first woman to lead Sweden (and whose first government collapsed in a single day) | Ideas


Luis Grañena

The election of the first female head of government in Sweden after 33 male leaders, a historical event, has been preceded by a kind of anticlimax. The chosen one, Magdalena Andersson (Uppsala, 54 years old), recent leader of the Social Democrats, was the strongest candidate to replace Stefan Löfven – who resigned in November after losing a vote of no confidence in June – and was endorsed by Parliament as head of a coalition Executive with Los Verdes on the morning of November 24. His government collapsed, however, that same afternoon. The Greens left her standing, after the Budget vote in which the accounts prepared by the opposition were approved. The laboriously woven agreement with the support of the Left Party collapsed, and Andersson had to resign. Five days later, she became Prime Minister, but of a one-color and more minority government than expected.

A chaotic premiere, which makes things a little more difficult for him. “His parliamentary support has waned a lot and he will have to build a team if he wants to have options to stay in power after the September elections,” says Ewa Stenberg, political analyst for the liberal daily. Dagens Nyheter, the most widely used in Sweden.

And that is the objective of Magdalena Andersson, who already made it clear in her first statements that she did not see herself starting “a government of 10 months, but of 10 years.” In Sweden – curiously, the last of the Nordic countries to have a prime minister – her arrival has been greeted with satisfaction. Even a political adversary like the conservative publicly congratulated herself that a woman had finally managed to “break the glass ceiling”, culminating in an egalitarian process that has been frustrated until now. “Both the Social Democrats and the Conservatives have already had women as leaders, but in all cases they withdrew before becoming prime ministers, due to resistance within their parties. The one who was closest was Anna Lindh, Foreign Minister, assassinated in 2003 ″, says by email Drude Dahlerup, emeritus professor of the Department of Political Science at Stockholm University. “It is obvious that women face many obstacles to occupying those positions in political parties around the world.” All the more reason for Andersson to hold on to the job and be willing to fight to keep it. For now, he has promised to develop the welfare state, take climate change very seriously, return the old people’s homes and schools privatized by conservative governments to the public sphere, and put an end to the violence between rival drug gangs that has been claimed this year 44 lives, in addition to a hundred injured.

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It is a fact, however, that you will have to deal with Budgets that are not yours. And that her party, which has governed with Los Verdes since 2014, has suffered significant wear and tear, although her tenure as Economy Minister in the three Stefan Löfven executives has been praised. He came to that position after a long history of social democratic militancy that began at the age of 16 in the Party’s Youth. At age 24, he joined the kitchen of the Government led by Göran Persson. Since then, he has not stopped accumulating responsibilities. Secretary of State for the Economy; advisor to the first woman to lead the Swedish socialists, Mona Sahlin; head of the Tax Agency, party economy spokesperson, economy minister and prime minister.

The only daughter of a teaching couple, she grew up in a well-off environment committed to social issues. She herself recalled, in statements to the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, who avidly follows political and social news from a young age. “That made me interested in everything that was happening around me. And to be outraged by injustices ”. Judging by his biography, his life has been dominated by two passions: the Social Democratic Party and the economy. And to a lesser extent, sports. She was a junior swimming champion and an excellent gymnast. Magdalena, according to what her former coach, Christer Johansson, today a member of the Left Party, has told the TT digital, is “very focused on her goals.”

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Andersson studied at the Stockholm School of Economics, a private school, in addition to completing a short course at Harvard and the Vienna School for Advanced Study. At the elitist School of Economics she met her husband, Richard Friberg, currently a professor at the center and father of her two children, a 21-year-old boy and a 19-year-old girl. A well-established family, almost exemplary, according to the portrait that Andersson herself has drawn in some interviews. A nature lover, she used to take long walks to clear her mind and seek solutions to problems in her years as a minister. As the head of a minority executive, you will have less time for walks and more problems to solve. His future in the next elections depends on his success. “In her favor she has,” Ewa Stenberg underlines, “the growing support for her and for the Social Democratic Party as reflected in the latest polls.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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