Sweden’s parliament confirmed Magdalena Andersson as the country’s first female prime minister on Wednesday, but the Social Democrat leader resigned less than 12 hours into the job.
Andersson won approval as Sweden’s prime minister during a vote in parliament and was elected as outgoing leader Stefan Lofeven’s successor. But shortly after, her budget failed to pass, and her coalition collapsed when the Green Party chose to quit.
“I have asked the speaker to be relieved of my duties as prime minister,” Andersson told reporters. “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.”
Earlier in the day, Andersson’s budget proposal was rejected during a vote in parliament, when the Centre party withdrew its support because of a concession that had been made to the Left party to raise pensions.
It led to the parliament adopting another budget proposal that had been presented by the opposition, with support from the conservative Moderates, Christian Democrats, and the far-right Sweden Democrats.
This development was something the Green Party could not give its support to, choosing to quit the coalition government rather than support the opposition’s budget. Greens leader Per Bolund said: “Now the government has voted for a budget that has been negotiated by a right-wing extremist party”.
Andersson had earlier said she was willing to govern with the opposition’s budget, but when her junior coalition partner quit, she made the call to resign.
“There is a constitutional practice that a coalition government should resign when one party quits,” she said.
While Andersson’s time as prime minister was short and defined by conflict, it did mark a milestone for the European nation, that had never elected a woman as prime minister. She was given a standing ovation by members of parliament after being elected.
“I know what this means for girls in our country,” Andersson said.
“I also grew up as a girl in Sweden and Sweden is a land of gender inequality. Absolutely, I am moved by this.”
Sweden is a nation with a reputation for championing gender equality, yet until Andersson’s brief time as leader, it had never taken the step of having a female prime minister. All other Nordic countries, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland, have had women lead their governments.