Just hours after being installed as Sweden’s first ever female prime minister, Magdalena Andersson dramatically resigned on Wednesday evening after suffering a budget defeat in parliament and then losing her coalition partner in a two-party minority government.
Ms Andersson said a decision by the Green Party to quit the two-party coalition had forced her to resign, but added that she had told the parliamentary speaker she hoped to be appointed prime minster again as the head of a single-party government.
The Green Party said it would leave government after the coalition’s budget bill was rejected by parliament.
“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,” Ms Andersson told a news conference.
She added: “A coalition government should resign if a party chooses to leave the government. Despite the fact that the parliamentary situation is unchanged, it needs to be tried again.”
Her resignation was a shocking twist in a dramatic and historic day in Swedish politics. Hours earlier, the Swedish parliament had approved Ms Andersson as the country’s first female leader after she recently became the head of the ruling Social Democratic Party.
With the budget vote approaching, Ms Andersson had said earlier on Wednesday that she would not resign if she lost, but changed her mind later in the day.
“I am of the opinion that [the opposition budget] as a whole is something I can live with,” Ms Andersson had told reporters at a news conference.
Her appointment was initally a notable milestone for Sweden, which has long been viewed as one of Europe’s most progressive countries when it comes to gender equality but has yet to have a woman in the top political post.
In a speech to parliament, Amineh Kakabaveh, an independent member who had supported Ms Andersson, noted that Sweden was currently celebrating the 100th anniversary of a decision to introduce universal and equal suffrage in the Scandinavian country.
“If women are only allowed to vote but are never elected to the highest office, democracy is not complete,” Ms Kakabaveh said. “There is something symbolic in this decision.”
Ms Andersson had sought to secure the backing of two other smaller parties that had supported Sweden’s previous centre-left, minority government – the Left Party and the Centre Party.
The speaker of parliament will now decide the next step in the process of forming a new government.