Stefan Lofven has returned to his post as Prime Minister after weeks of unrest since his resignation last month.
Swedish Social Democratic leader Stefan Lofven was narrowly re-elected Prime Minister by parliament on Wednesday after ruling the country as a guardian since his resignation last month.
Lofven had to avoid a majority of votes against him in the Swedish Riksdag. He avoided two-vote rejection in the 349-seat parliament, with one parliamentarian breaking party ranks to back him.
In Sweden, prime ministers can govern as long as there is no parliamentary majority – a minimum of 175 votes – against them.
“The Riksdag gave me the support I needed to continue to lead Sweden,” Lofven said at a press conference, noting that it was an “extremely restricted” vote in parliament.
Lofven earlier to leave his post after losing a historic no-confidence vote on June 21 called by the right-wing populist Swedish Democrats party.
The move succeeded because the Left Party, a government ally, withdrew its support for Lofven’s previous coalition government with the Greens over proposed legislation to tackle the housing shortage.
However, instead of calling early elections, as the Swedish constitution allowed, he opted for the coalition-building process overseen by Speaker of Parliament Andreas Norlen.
The first to be tasked by Norlen with trying to form a new government was the leader of the moderate center-right opposition party, Ulf Kristersson. However, he failed and said he was only able to get 174 lawmakers behind him.
After Wednesday’s vote, Kristersson said Lofven’s victory was “not unexpected” and called it “unfortunate”.
Weakened central pitch
Lofven, a 63-year-old former union boss, has led a center-left minority cabinet since a 2018 election that produced an almost equally divided parliament and big gains for Sweden’s Democrats, which several other parties refuse to deal with.
He said he would now form a bipartisan cabinet with the Greens and should present it on Friday.
But Lofven has yet to find enough support to pass a budget and has warned he will resign again if he fails to get parliament’s approval in the fall.
“I’m the first to admit it won’t be easy,” he said on Wednesday. “But I’m also the first to say, ‘Now we all have to contribute. No one can get everything, but everyone can get something.
The political crisis in Sweden has undermined the political center of the country and is accompanied by the next parliamentary elections scheduled for September 2022.
Parties at both ends of the political spectrum – the former Communist Left Party and the anti-immigration Swedish Democrats, however, appear to have emerged from the fury emboldened.
Confidence in leftist Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar has skyrocketed in polls since she withdrew her support for Lofven and forced plans to ease rent controls to be withdrawn.
Meanwhile, Jimmie Akesson’s Swedish Democrats helped topple the government, albeit temporarily, and fostered closer ties with other right-wing parties after long being treated as political outcasts.
“The best thing would be for the new political situation to be tested in early elections. This is the only way to untie political knots in this country, ”Akesson said in a speech in parliament on Wednesday.