Election Results: Swedish Prime Minister Announces Her Resignation After Confirmation of Right Bloc Victory | International

The agonizing wait turned into disappointment for the Social Democrats in Sweden. Magdalena Andersson, the prime minister, has announced her resignation after the scrutiny this Wednesday of hundreds of thousands of ballots that were pending confirmed the victory of the right-wing bloc in last Sunday’s elections in the Scandinavian country. The seats won by the extreme right, the conservatives, the Christian Democrats and the liberals reach a majority in the Riksdag (Parliament). They add 176 deputies, three more than the four parties of the left half of the Swedish parliamentary arc.

Late in the afternoon, with 99.8% of the vote counted, Andersson acknowledged the defeat of the left-wing bloc in a press conference. “The result is already clear”, declared the president, shortly before announcing, in a surprising move, that this Thursday she will present her resignation as head of government, but that she will continue to lead her party. “I will ask to resign from my duties as Prime Minister, and then the responsibility will fall on the President of Parliament,” explained the Social Democrat. Andersson has added that she is willing “to lead the opposition”, but that, in the event that the right-wing bloc is unable to agree, all political forces, except the extreme right, will have the door of opposition open. her office. A few minutes earlier, Jimmie Akesson, the leader of the extreme right, wrote on Facebook: “Eight years of Social Democratic government are over. The time has come to restore security and well-being in Sweden.”

The counting of the last ballots (vote abroad, a part of the anticipated one, and a few that some voters deposited in polling stations other than the one to which they were assigned) has also corroborated the sorpasso of the formation led by Akesson, Democrats of Sweden (DS), over the Moderate Party (conservatives), until now the majority force of that ideological spectrum.

The victory of the right-wing bloc augurs an arduous negotiation for the formation of the future government. The moderates, the Christian Democrats and the liberals have defended during the campaign the option of forming a right-wing Executive with the parliamentary support of DS. In a tepid way, the traditional right (conservatives and Christian Democrats) has dropped the possibility of offering some ministerial portfolio to the extremists. However, Akesson claimed at the end of the election day a “central role” in the future government, something that none of the other three parties in the block seem to be willing to do, especially the Liberals. Since 1932, the right has only governed in Sweden (10.3 million inhabitants) in three periods: from 1976 to 1982, between 1991 and 1994, and from 2006 to 2014.

Informal negotiations between the right-wing parties have already begun on Monday, with 95% of the ballots counted and with a margin of only 45,000 votes between the two blocs. The Conservatives tried to keep their contacts with the extreme right secret, but the Radicals took pains not to keep them hidden. Ulf Kristersson, the conservative leader, aspires to form a coalition government solely with the Christian Democrats and with the parliamentary support of DS and the Liberals, but the latter also demand a ministry —they have shown interest in Education— if they end up forming a Right-wing executive that does not include the radicals. Both the Conservatives, as well as the Christian Democrats and the Liberals, have worsened their results compared to the 2018 elections. To be sworn in as Prime Minister it is not necessary to have an absolute majority of votes in favor, but it is necessary that 175 votes against are not added.

The high officials of DS are aware that the liberals are not going to be willing to form a government that includes the four forces of the right-wing bloc. They know that it is probable that they will not even support an Executive in parliament in which the radicals have a ministry. And the extreme right is already studying the possibility of staying on the sidelines and demanding that some of its proposals be approved from their seats. Lynus Bilund, chief of staff of DS, pointed out this Tuesday that the entry of his formation in the future Government is a “starting point for negotiations”, not an “ultimatum”. Akesson has campaigned on his intention to deport all foreigners who commit any infraction, punish begging, or demolish neighborhoods that the police have described as “high risk”, all of them with a high concentration of immigrants.

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Jimmie Akesson, the leader of the Sweden Democrats, celebrates the election result early Monday morning at a Stockholm hotel.
Jimmie Akesson, the leader of the Sweden Democrats, celebrates the election result early Monday morning at a Stockholm hotel.MAJA SUSLIN (AFP)

If the extreme right finally demands the post of prime minister for Akesson, or even several ministerial portfolios, the right-wing bloc could suffer deep fractures. Some political analysts, such as Jonas Hinnfors and Anders Sannerstedt, argue that one of the 16 Liberals who will be in Parliament could break with their party and support the leftist bloc. Romina Pourmokhtari, a 26-year-old future deputy, has already declared this Wednesday to the newspaper Dagens Nyheter that with his seat he will not allow the formation of a government that includes the extreme right.

After the parliamentary elections four years ago, the right-wing parties also had a majority in the Riksdag, but then there were no negotiations between them to reach an agreement. A sanitary cordon to the extremists, which all the other political forces had established years ago, ended the options of the conservatives and allowed the birth of a coalition government between Social Democrats and Greens, after more than four months of negotiations. That resounding refusal of any contact with the extreme right dissipated over the months. The only formation to the right of the Social Democrats that has maintained its firm opposition to the Radicals at all times has been the Center Party. The centrists, who were part of the coalition government with conservatives, liberals and Christian Democrats between 2006 and 2014, moved to the left-wing bloc in these elections.

All the polls that were published in the final stretch of the campaign, and the exit polls, gave the bloc on the left (social democrats, ex-communists, centrists and ecologists) a slight advantage over their rivals. They were right that the Social Democratic Party – winner of all the elections in the Scandinavian country for more than 100 years – would clearly be the party with the most support. The party of the prime minister has obtained 30.4% of the votes, a better result than four years ago (28.3%), and has been the most voted force in the 21 regions of the Nordic country. The seats won by the Social Democrats (107) and the Conservatives (68) add up to the magic figure of 175, so some analysts have raised the possibility of a German-style grand coalition. Kristersson has defended the entire campaign that the right had to join forces to expel Andersson from the Government, so this option does not seem to have much travel at the moment.

At the start of election day on Sunday, some of the eight main political parties were not guaranteed that they would get 4% of the vote, the minimum required to enter Parliament. Liberals (4.6%), Greens (5%) and Christian Democrats (5.4%) have narrowly surpassed him. The leftists and the centrists have been tied for fourth position with 6.7% of the support.

The electoral campaign was mainly focused on issues related to immigration and crime, issues that in principle favored the right-wing parties. Two issues that had dominated Swedish politics during the previous months, the future accession to NATO and the risky strategy during the coronavirus pandemic (which left Sweden with a death toll per 100,000 inhabitants similar to the European average, but much higher to that of their Nordic neighbours) were practically excluded from the political debate.

In the 2018 elections, three seats fluctuated between the provisional results at the end of election day and the final ones. And in 1979, the vote abroad reversed the advantage of just under 10,000 votes that the alliance led by the Social Democrat Olof Palme had over the conservative bloc. On this occasion, in the absence of a few thousand ballots being counted, only one seat has changed hands between Monday morning and the end of the count: the Social Democrats have lost it in favor of the moderates.

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