COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven narrowly won support from lawmakers Wednesday to form a new government after leading the country in a caretaking capacity since late last month.
Lofven received 116 votes in the 349-seat Riksdagen in favor of giving him the mandate, with 60 abstentions. In Sweden, prime ministers can govern as long as there is no parliamentary majority — a minimum 175 votes — against them. A total 173 votes were cast against Lofven Wednesday..
Lawmakers from the Center Party and the Left Party abstained from voting, paving the way for his victory, while Lofven’s Social Democratic Party, the Greens and one independent lawmaker voted for him. All together, they accounted for 175 seats in parliament, the minimum number needed for a majority. The Social Democrats hold 100 seats. One opposition lawmaker from the center-right bloc abstained.
“Because fewer than half of the assembly's members voted no, the assembly has approved the proposal to appoint Stefan Lofven as Prime Minister,” said Parliament Speaker Andreas Norlen.
“The Riksdag has given me the support needed to continue to lead Sweden,” Lofven told a news conference and noted that it was an “extremely narrow" vote in parliament.
Lofven has said he will form a two-party Cabinet with the Greens and is expected to present it on Friday.
The 63-year-old Lofven lost a June 21 no-confidence vote called by the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats party. The move succeeded because the Left Party, a government ally, had withdrawn its support for Lofven’s previous coalition government with the Greens over proposed legislation to tackle a housing shortage.
Instead of calling an early election, as the Swedish Constitution allowed him to, Lofven opted for the coalition-building process that is overseen by Norlen.
The first to be tasked by Norlen to try forming a new government was the head of Sweden’s center-right opposition Moderates 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 win was “not unexpected” and called it “unfortunate.”
Sweden’s next general election is scheduled for Sept. 11, 2022.
Lofven, who has served as Sweden’s head of government since 2014, will remain caretaker prime minister until a new government is established.
Jan M. Olsen, The Associated Press