Swedish PM Stefan Lofven to step down in November

AP International

FILE – In this file photo dated Friday, May 7, 2021, Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven attends the opening ceremony of an EU summit in Porto, Portugal. In a surprise announcement Sunday Aug. 22, 2021, Stefan Lofven, Sweden’s Social Democratic prime minister since 2014, is stepping down as head of government and the party in November 2021. (AP Photo/Luis Vieira, FILE)

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Stefan Lofven, Sweden’s Social Democratic prime minister since 2014, said Sunday that he will step down as head of government and the party in November.

The unexpected announcement — made during his annual summer speech —- came ahead of next year’s general election and after Lofven in June became the first Swedish leader ever to lose a motion in parliament.

Lofven said he had informed the party “that I want to leave my position as party chairman at the party congress in November and then also ask to be dismissed as prime minister.”

He said being prime minister and head of the Social Democrats “have been fantastic years.”

“But everything has an end and I want to give my successor the very best conditions,” the 63-year-old Lofven said.

Stepping down is “not easy, but right,” Lofven said, adding there also was “a little sadness too.”

It was not immediately clear who would replace Lofven.

Since 2012, he has been head of the Social Democrats — Sweden’s largest party that currently holds 100 of parliament’s 349 seats. The party has no obvious replacement for Lofven, but Swedish news agency TT pointed at Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson as a possible candidate.

A new leader for the Social Democratic Party is to be elected at a party congress being held Nov. 3-7, and that person then must be confirmed as prime minister by the parliament, according to Sweden’s Constitution.

Earlier this year, Lofven resigned after losing a confidence vote and called on the country’s parliamentary speaker to try to form a new government instead of holding an early election. He was able to form a two-party coalition government that was the same as the previous one.

After the 2018 election, Sweden had a deadlocked parliament because no one wanted to cooperate with the Sweden Democrats, a right-wing populist party that is considered extreme. It took four months of negotiations to produce a government that Lofven presented in January 2019.

Sweden’s next general election is scheduled for Sept. 11, 2022.

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