Sweden’s new prime minister, Stefan Löfven, who got into office following a historic election, has resigned after just hours into his tenure. The 73-year-old leader and party secretary said he had decided to resign “out of responsibility for what happened.” “We have caused a crisis in our society and it’s too hard for us to handle,” he said in an emotional press conference.
Löfven said he was going to “do everything to return Sweden to its origins of a country where everyone matters and where people can create their lives in peace and dignity.” He said he would remain in politics and would be mayor of Gothenburg. Löfven added that while he “will be angry at all I have to say,” he would not leave parliament. “I am able to do that because I understand this responsibility,” he said.
The announcement came just hours after the mainstream Social Democrats suffered a shocking defeat in the country’s general election, in which the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats won their first seats in parliament. Löfven, elected after eight years in power under his predecessor, had called for a “second Swede” in the role.
Sweden is the fourth major European country to see political turmoil in recent weeks, as social anxiety and anti-establishment parties sweep the continent. In France, populist leader Marine Le Pen won 35 percent of the vote in the first round of the presidential election, narrowly not qualifying for a run-off against President Emmanuel Macron. But three weeks later, after a landslide victory, Macron has emerged as a force to be reckoned with. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Le Pen’s Socialist rival, appears set to be elected president. And in Germany, Angela Merkel, Germany’s leader since 2005, is facing a tough re-election in September amid a right-wing populist surge.
During his press conference, Löfven spoke of the need for unity in Sweden following the political upheaval: “These aren’t our own interests, but this is the interests of our society,” he said.
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