Stockholm: Sweden's parliament on Wednesday approved Magdalena Andersson as the country's first female prime minister, tapping the finance minister who recently became the new leader of the Social Democratic party.
Andersson was tapped to replace Stefan Lofven as party leader and prime minister, roles he relinquished earlier this year. The development marked a milestone for Sweden, viewed for decades as one of Europe's most progressive countries when it comes to gender relations, but which had yet to have a woman in the top political post. Lofven's government has describes itself as "feminist,'' putting equality between women and men at the heart of national and international work.
She graduated from the prestigious Stockholm School of Economics before being recruited into politics by former prime minister Goran Persson.
Andersson was deputy head of the tax agency between 2009 and 2012 while the Social Democrats were out of office.
She has been finance minister since 2014.
FIRST WOMAN PM IN SWEDEN: Despite championing equality, Sweden has lagged neighbour Norway by 40 years in appointing a female prime minister.
Finland got its first female premier in 2003 and Denmark in 2011.
Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the world’s first female prime minister when she was elected to lead Sri Lanka in 1960.
In a speech to parliament, Amineh Kakabaveh, an independent lawmaker who supported Andersson, noted that Sweden is currently celebrating the 100th anniversary of a 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,'' Kakabaveh who is of Iranian Kurdish descent, said.
"There is something symbolic in this decision," she added.
In the 349-seat Riksdag, 117 lawmakers voted yes to Andersson, 174 rejected her while 57 abstained and one lawmaker was absent.
In all, the opposition cast 174 votes against Andersson but under the Swedish Constitution, prime ministers can be named and govern as long as a parliamentary majority - a minimum of 175 lawmakers - is not against them.
Lofven has been leading the Swedish government in a caretaking capacity until a new government is formed, something expected Friday. Andersson likely will form a two-party, minority government with her Social Democrats and the Green Party.
Andersson, 54, sought to secure the backing of the two smaller parties that supported Sweden's previous 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 a deal to win the latter's support. The deal focused on pensions and they on a supplement of of up to 1,000 kronor ($111) for about 700,000 pensioners on low incomes.