Sweden's First Female Prime Minister Quits After Parliament Votes for Opposition Budget

Hours after being appointed as Sweden's first female prime minister, Magdalena Andersson stepped down Wednesday after suffering a budget defeat in parliament that led her coalition partner, the Green Party, to leave the two-party minority government.

The Associated Press reported that the Swedish parliament rejected the government's budget proposal in favor of the opposition's, which includes the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats, a group with Neo-Nazi roots.

The budget, which was approved 154-143, seeks to reduce taxes, increase police salaries and increase money in Sweden's judiciary system.

Members of the Green Party said it was in their best interests to pull their support for Andersson after the budget defeat, saying they could not sit on a government that approves a plan by the Sweden Democrats.

Andersson said there is a constitutional practice that a coalition government should resign if one party chooses to leave, so she is following that practice.

"For me, it is about respect, but I also do not want to lead a government where there may be grounds to question its legitimacy," Andersson said at a news conference.

She also said she is still interested in leading a Social Democrat one-party government.

Swedish Parliamentary Speaker Andreas Norlen said he will contact the country's eight party leaders "to discuss the situation," then announce Thursday how they plan to proceed.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Magdalena Andersson, Sweden, Prime Minister
Hours after being tapped as Sweden’s prime minister, Magdalena Andersson resigned Wednesday after suffering a budget defeat in parliament and coalition partner the Greens left the two-party minority government. Above, Andersson during a press conference after the budget vote in the Swedish parliament in Stockholm on November 24, 2021. Pontus Lundahl/TT via AP

Even though the Green Party pulled its support for her government, it said it is prepared to stand behind Andersson in a new vote to tap a prime minister.

But the Greens said it was in the best interests of the party to pull support for her after the budget defeat in parliament.

"We have a united party behind us saying we can not sit in government that implements a policy [the Sweden Democrats] negotiated. We must look our voters in the eye and feel pride," said Marta Stenevi, Green Party spokesperson as the party chose to resign from the government.

The other Green Party spokesperson Per Bolund said "that is something we deeply regret."

Earlier in the day, Andersson said she could "govern the country with the opposition's budget."

The approved budget was based on the government's own proposal but of the 74 billion kronor ($8.2 billion) that the government wanted to spend on reforms, just over 20 billion kronor ($2.2 billion) will be redistributed next year, Swedish broadcaster SVT said.

Andersson's appointment as prime minister had marked a milestone for Sweden, viewed for decades as one of Europe's most progressive countries when it comes to gender relations, but which had yet to have a woman in the top political post.

Andersson had been tapped to replace Stefan Lofven as party leader and prime minister, roles he relinquished earlier this year.

Earlier in the day, 117 lawmakers voted yes to Andersson, 174 rejected her appointment while 57 abstained and one lawmaker was absent.

Under the Swedish Constitution, prime ministers can be named and govern as long as a parliamentary majority—a minimum of 175 lawmakers—is not against them.

Sweden's next general election is scheduled for September 11.

Swedish Parliament, Sweden, Prime Minister
Sweden's first female prime minister resigned just hours after being appointed. Above, lawmakers applaud after the vote in which Sweden's Finance Minister and Social Democratic Party leader Magdalena Andersson was appointed prime minister, in the Swedish parliament Riksdagen in Stockholm on November 24, 2021. Erik Simander/TT News Agency via AP