What's New(s)

What's New(s) - The (new) Swedish Prime Minister - 2/12/2021

What's New(s) - The (new) Swedish Prime Minister - 2/12/2021

What´s New(s)? La revue de presse anglophone – Erik Ruiz Martín & Nadine Vermeulen

Just when the news about the freshly appointed Swedish PM was sinking in, she resigned. 

You'll find the script below:

Good morning, Nadine, what’s going on in Swedish politics?

Indeed, Magdalena Andersson, the newly elected first female president of the Nordic country made the news across Europe last week, when she resigned just five hours after being appointed. She was planning to head a two-party coalition with the Greens, but failed to get parliamentary backing for her budget. Her absence from the Prime Minister’s seat did however not last for long, she was assigned again on Monday, reported POLITICO, when lawmakers accepted her plan to lead a single-party Social Democratic Government. 

And how did it come so far? 

Well, only four weeks ago, Magdalena Andersson, then finance minister of the Swedish minority government formed by the Social Democrats and the Greens, was nominated as the new head of party, after her predecessor Stefan Löfven suddenly resigned. It was putting Andersson on track to become the country’s first woman Prime Minister. Sweden was the last of all Nordic countries to have a woman leading their government, reported France 24 back then. The newspaper also predicted that when elected, Andersson, by Swedish TV-channel SVT described as the “bulldozer”, would immediately be tasked with the difficult mission to pass a budget through the deadlocked legislature. And the budget was indeed what forced her to resign last week. Initially she succeeded in clinching a last-minute deal with the Left party to raise pensions in exchange for its backing. But the state-of-play changed soon, when the small Centre party withdrew its support, and the conservative Moderates and far-right Sweden Democrats proposed a new budget. The Greens gave the fatal blow, reported BBC, when the party did not accept this new budget drafted by the far right. 

And what will happen next?

Good question. According to Euronews, the Prime Minister still “emerged triumphant after another vote in the Swedish parliament on Monday.” Even if it was a “narrow affair”, with 173 votes against her – only 2 votes more, and she would have lost. On a less positive note, the BBC writes that she will “attempt” to lead this one-party government until a national election in September next year. In the same line Charlie Duxbury in POLITICO predicts that the upcoming months won’t be easy. As a head of a one-party minority government, she will have to strike deals with a large range of allies, issue by issue, rather than trying to agree on broad strategies. And the messy process of nomination, resignation and re-election reflects the difficulties she had uniting allies behind her agenda. Andersson will also have to face the continuous upsurge of extreme-right Neo-nazi rooted party the Sweden Democrats, that put Swedish politics in a bad spotlight, wrote the Financial Times.

But then moving on to other issues that grabbed the headlines this week; it seems that the press all around Europe reports worrying on the new COVID variant, isn’t it? 

Omicron is the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet and also a frightening variant of COVID-19 that threatens to steal our winter holidays, again. In an interview with Financial Times, MODERNA's CEO estimated that current vaccines are highly unlikely to work against the new variant. The variant has caused some 'nervous governments’, as described by John Henley and Nick Dall in the Guardian, such as Japan, Australia or Israel to start imposing restrictions on travellers from outside their borders, pointing out that countries opting to impose stricter travel restrictions argued that the new measures would provide valuable time to analyse the variant. Le Monde notes that although Omicron is spreading rapidly around the world, it is not yet known whether it is more or less dangerous than the other variants. In turn, Hamish McCallum writes in The Conversation that Omicron causes milder illness, and launches the following question: is this how COVID becomes endemic?

And will European countries still be able to prevent the worst-case scenario?

Well, we still do not know. Hellen Collis emphasizes in POLITICO the importance of vaccines and the speed of pharmaceuticals in developing new versions of the already existing vaccines. Euractiv points out that some countries have been forced to take measures again. This is the case in the UK, were, from now on, face masks will be compulsory indoors again. For the moment there are already major losers from this strain, the European tourism sector for example, which, as Mari Eccles reports in POLITICO, has been plunged into uncertainty. Outside the EU, the countries that detect the new variants, as Jessica Mouzo Quintáns points out in El País, are the great concern of the WHO, which fears that the stigmatization they face will end up discouraging them from notifying new strains. Suddeustche Zeitung also highlights investors' fears and notes that the new variant has taken control of the stock market. So, in summary... everyone is nervous, but no one knows how nervous they should be.

Photo : Martin Hörner Kloo via Flickr