The Swedish parliament on Wednesday approved Magdalena Andersson as the country’s first female prime minister, replacing the finance minister who recently became the new leader of the Social Democratic party.
Andersson was chosen to replace Stefan Lofven as party leader and prime minister, roles he resigned earlier this year.
The development marked a milestone for Sweden, considered for decades to be one of the most progressive countries in Europe when it comes to gender relations, but which did not yet have a woman in the highest political position. The Lofven government has described itself as “feminist”, putting equality between women and men at the center of national and international work.
In a speech to parliament, Amineh Kakabaveh, an independent lawmaker who supported Andersson, noted that Sweden is currently celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 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,” said Kakabaveh, who is of Iranian Kurdish descent.
“There is something symbolic in this decision,” he added.
In the 349-seat Riksdag, 117 lawmakers voted yes to Andersson, 174 rejected her, 57 abstained and one lawmaker was absent.
In total, the opposition cast 174 votes against Andersson, but according to the Swedish Constitution, prime ministers can be appointed and govern as long as a parliamentary majority, a minimum of 175 legislators, is not against him.
Lofven has been leading the Swedish government as a caretaker until a new government is formed, something that is expected on Friday. Andersson is likely to form a bipartisan minority government with his Social Democrats and the Green Party.
Andersson, 54, tried to secure the backing of the two smaller parties that supported Sweden’s former center-left minority government led by Lofven: the Left Party and the Center Party. Both abstained from voting against Andersson.
After days of talks, Andersson and the Left Party reached an agreement to win the latter’s support. The deal focused on pensions and a supplement of up to 1,000 crowns ($ 111) for some 700,000 low-income pensioners.