The Swedish Political Soap Opera: Is This Finally the End?
The political "soap opera" in Sweden has come to an end, or, one may say: a temporary end. As the Swedish Parliament approved the Speaker's proposal to appoint Magdalena Andersson (Social Democratic Party) as Prime Minister, another ten months of fragile stability may be granted to Andersson and her one-party-led government until the general election on September 11th, 2022.
This serial melodrama began with a no-confidence vote in June 2021. The then PM and leader of Social Democrats, Stefan Löfven, received ouster votes from opposition members of the parliament and was forced to resign or call for a snap election. The reason for this no-confidence vote is partially due to the withdrawal of support from the Left Party, which Löfvan angered after he refused to back down from a deregulation plan aimed at Sweden's rental housing market. The option of resignation was then chosen by Löfven, with considerations of the short period left for the next general election and the still-raging pandemic in Sweden. The tuff challenge of seeking a new PM and the majority of votes was handed over to the parliamentary Speaker. However, two weeks later, the first plot twist occurred and reduced the previous resignation to a farce: Löfven was reinstated as the PM, not because of the sudden change of minds of the oppositions, but an insufficient number of "against" votes to block Löfven's nomination.
The plot continued to stretch credulity to the limit. In August, Löfven announced resignations for both party leader and prime minister roles to "allow the successor to prepare for the 2022 elections". This resulted in the Swedish Parliament, once again, needing a vote for a new leader and government to solve a set of bothersome uncertainties.
Löfven's baton was passed to the Finance Minister, Magdalena Andersson, as the Social Democrats announced her as the new party leader in September, putting Sweden on a course of having its first female prime minister. At first, the situation seemed to be plain sailing for Andersson, as the parliamentary arithmetic is nearly the same for her predecessor Löfven. However, politics has thrown in another plot twist. Right after winning the parliamentary vote by the smallest margin, the vote on the government's 2022 budget held on the same day, November 24th, has forced Anderson to resign. Her premiership ended in less than 8 hours due to the inability to pass the budget proposal and the Green Party's coalition's demise with her party.
Unlike the Left Party's direct discontent, the reason for the Green Party's sudden leaving was centered on the budget drawn up by the oppositions, including the far-right Sweden Democrats. This withdrawn of the Greens left Andersson no choice but to resign, as the constitutional practice in Sweden requires the whole government to resign when one party leaves the coalition. However, despite the fact being no longer in the government, the Green and the Left still stated to support Andersson for the next round of parliamentary elections by abstaining from voting.
So, it happened again: On Monday, November 29th, 2021, another round of voting was given to the members of the parliament to approve or reject Andersson's premiership. The result was nearly the same, allowing Andersson to win with the narrowest margin. The only difference this time lies in her future cabinet. As the Green Party pulled out from the government, Andersson is now to lead a one-party administration with only 1/3 of seats in the parliament. Plus, she will have to govern with the oppositions' budget.
There is no doubt that Sweden will be facing a period of growing unrest. Not only because of the unfavorable political condition the present government is facing, but also the alarmingly increased amount of violence and organized crime in the major cities in Sweden, including the death of a famous Swedish rapper, Einar, who was shot in a gang-violence related attack.
Many people have expressed concern about this societal chaos. However, a lot less focus was placed on the political turmoil by swedes. Similar reactions happened after the no-confidence vote. When Löfven became the first PM in Swedish history to be ousted by the parliament, the Euro 2020 Football Championship was also going in full swing at the same time. When I read the news, I remembered myself taken aback by the fact, but soon discovered all reviews on different media platforms had a very calm tone. People did take some time to discuss and seek to understand the situation but soon went straight back to football.
Nevertheless, this time, the situation is somewhat different. Furthermore, Sweden's long-considered political and societal stability may prove illusory in many ways. Will Andersson and her government tide over all these difficulties? Can they keep a short period of political strength? Are they able to win in the upcoming general elections? The answers are still obscure at the moment, but we all have to admit: politics and real-life always have the best cliffhanger endings to keep us in suspense.