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Sweden gets first female prime minister for second time in less than a week

The nation of 10 million is known for its progressive views on gender, but has never had a woman in the top political post.
Image: Swedish parliament elects Social Democrat leader as new PM for second time
Magdalena Andersson is congratulated in the Swedish parliament on Monday after being reappointed as prime minister just days after quitting amid political turmoil.Jonas Ekstromer / TT News Agency via Reuters

Magdalena Andersson made political history last week when she became Sweden’s first female prime minister. On Tuesday, she made history for a second time when she got her job back. 

Andersson, 54, a former finance minister and leader of the Social Democratic Party, made international headlines Wednesday after she stepped down just hours after winning a vote to become prime minister by a narrow margin. The nascent government's collapse was sparked by the Green Party leaving her coalition.

She will now form a one-party, minority government.

“It feels good and I am eager to start,” Andersson told reporters at a news conference after being elected, the Associated Press reported.

Social Democratic Party leader Magdalena Andersson speaks on her appointment as prime minister in Stockholm on Monday. Jonas Ekstromer / TT News Agency via Getty Images

Sweden is known for its progressive views on gender, but it never had a woman in the top political post, making Andersson’s appointment as prime minister a historic milestone for the nation of 10 million.

In the last general election in 2018, 47 percent of the Swedish MPs elected were female, the parliament's press office told NBC News. But Sweden is the last Nordic country to get a female prime minister.

Denmark, Finland and Iceland all currently have women as their prime ministers. Norway’s first prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland assumed office in 1981.

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Andersson takes over as prime minister at a time of political fragmentation in the run-up to a general election in September. Her Social Democrats have been in power since 2014 supported by parties united by little else than their desire to keep the Sweden Democrats, a right-wing populist party, from influencing political agenda and policy.

As a minority leader, Andersson will have to lead one of Sweden’s weakest governments in recent decades with just 100 seats in the 349-seat parliament, limiting her ability to govern as she will have to rely on support from other parties to implement policy.

She has already said she will concentrate on three priorities — a welfare system sorely tested by the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and gang violence.

She will also have to live with a budget imposed on her by the opposition. 

But Andersson said Monday her party has “a long tradition of cooperation with others,” and will “stand ready to do what is needed to lead Sweden forward.”