“Uncompromising” Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson set to be Sweden’s first female prime minister

Magdalena AnderssonPhoto: Jessica Gow / TT / NTB

54-year-old Magdalena Andersson has a reputation of being uncompromising but very competent. Now she is taking over as Sweden’s prime minister in an unusual political landscape.

On Wednesday, the Swedish governing party, the Social Democrats, starts its party congress. It is expected that Andersson will take over as prime minister after Stefan Löfven. Thus, she is moving up from the job of finance minister she has had in recent years, and Sweden will get its first female prime minister.

It is not just gender that sets her apart from her predecessor. Stefan Löfven is known as a man of compromise from his many years in the trade union movement. On the other hand, Andersson is described by both party colleagues and other politicians as “a little uncompromising,” a profile piece by SVT notes.

A profile piece in Politiken further explains that Andersson has a “fierce temper” but that she is also a person with a lot of humor who laughs a lot.

Difficult political situation

Andersson must take over the job of navigating an unusually messy political landscape until the election in 2022. Stefan Löfven’s famous ability to compromise has received much of the credit for what has gone so well so far. In recent years, the Social Democrats have been in government as one party and collaborated with three others in order to retain the majority.

Even Löfven was about to lose his grip this summer when the Left Party withdrew its support and helped the opposition overthrow the government. Löfven managed to patch up cooperation at the time and remained prime minister. However, another coalition party, the Liberals, has stated that they want a conservative government after the election.

The party leadership’s favorite

Andersson will have to bring out all her qualities to keep the government afloat and win the election in September. Until now, she has appeared uncompromising, clear, but at the same time a bit anonymous – mostly, she has been seen as a public figure when the state budget was to be presented or during the corona crisis. The public knows little about her family, other than that she is married and has two children.

Most pointed to Magdalena Andersson when Stefan Löfven surprisingly announced that he would resign in August. She was the desired candidate for the party leadership and quickly received support from all the party’s district teams. 

On September 29, the formal nomination came from the nomination committee. Then she pointed to three important initiatives: the fight against gang crime and segregation, climate measures, and welfare.

Competitive swimmer who became an official

Magdalena Andersson grew up in the university city of Uppsala, with parents who worked in the school and university sector. In her youth, she was a competitive swimmer, and she won gold in national youth championships.

Like Löfven, Andersson has been a member of the party since she was a teenager, but otherwise, their careers could not have been more different. Löfven is a trained welder and was the leader of one of Sweden’s largest unions. Magdalena Andersson began her career as a political adviser to the then Prime Minister Göran Persson in 1996.

Andersson studied at Stockholm School of Economics, the Institute of Advanced Studies in Vienna, and at Harvard University in the United States.

Eventually, she moved up to become head of planning at Persson’s office, and after eight years in the civil service, she became State Secretary to the Minister of Finance Pär Nuder. After the Social Democrats lost the election in 2006, she became a political adviser again, this time for the new party leader Mona Sahlin.

Successful collaboration

In 2009, Andersson was appointed Director-General of the Swedish Tax Agency. This led to a three-year break from politics until the incoming party leader Stefan Löfven appointed her as his fiscal policy spokesperson. Over the next nine years, it would prove to be a very successful collaboration.

Like the longtime Prime Minister Göran Persson, who was also the man who first hired her, Andersson has had a steel focus on sound government finances. Sweden delivered a surplus in the state budget four years in a row until the corona pandemic hit the country in 2020, figures from Ekonomifakta show. In August, she boasted to the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet that she was the thriftiest finance minister in Europe, while Löfven has called her “the world’s best finance minister.”

Now Magdalena Andersson will take over the helm for the whole of Sweden. If the Riksdag approves her, she will be Sweden’s first female prime minister. 

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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