Swedish prime minister Stefan Lofven resigns

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven during the 'Supporting Syria and the Region' conference at the

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven during the 'Supporting Syria and the Region' conference at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London. - Credit: PA

After losing a vote of no-confidence, prime minister Lofven had two options; call a snap election or resign. He has chosen the latter, handing in his resignation.

He has left it up to Andreas Norlen, parliamentary speaker, to appoint his successor. Norlen will have to consult every party before naming his choice, meaning that the appointment process could be an elongated one. In 2018, one such consultation took 115 days. 

The speaker will also require 175 MPs to support his decision, failing this a general election will be called. 

As of yet, negotiations with other parties to build a more stable coalition have been unsuccessful, but a last-minute agreement cannot be ruled out. 

Addressing reporters at a press conference, Lofven said that a snap election was “not what is best for Sweden”, highlighting the difficulties Covid-19 created and also that the next general election, which would go ahead regardless of Lofven’s actions, is only a year away. 

Recent polling from Ipsos found that the right and far-right would gain a slim party majority should a snap election have been called.

“With that starting point, I have requested the speaker to relieve me as prime minister,” Lofven then added. 

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The Social Democrat leader led the Swedish left back into power in 2014 and then hung on by moving his party closer to the centre-right after the 2018 elections. 

His minority government then entered office in 2019, after months of political uncertainty following these elections in 2018. 

He becomes the first Swedish leader to be defeated by a vote of no-confidence, with 11 such votes being held in the nation’s political history. The motion was filed by the far-right Sweden Democrats after the Left party said it was planning to do so as a protest against a plan to ease rent controls.

This proposal would allow landlords to freely set rent prices for new apartments and it was seen as being at odds with the Swedish social model and threatens tenants’ rights. 

Ultimately, the vote of no-confidence was successful as the Left party had withdrawn its support from the government.

Critics have described the constellation that joined forces against the prime minister as an “unholy alliance” which united across both sides of the political spectrum. 

Lofven’s resignation may have paved the way for Ulf Kristersson, Moderate Party leader, to become prime minister, as reported in Expressen

Alternatively, he could find himself at the helm of a caretaker government until a solution is found. 

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