Anna Batra becomes Sweden’s third female Prime Minister

Image copyright Robyn Goth/Wikimedia Commons Image caption Anna Kinberg Batra is the first woman to head a major central European party

It’s official — Sweden has voted for a new female Prime Minister.

Anna Kinberg Batra’s centre-right Sweden Democrats will lead the new government after edging out both the Social Democrats and the Moderates.

She is the third woman to have held the post, after Ingvar Carlsson led a ‘modern and left-leaning’ coalition in the early 1990s and Wallenberg Asbjornsson followed in 2002.

Sweden’s gender-balanced cabinet never held office in its entirety.

Earlier, Ms Batra promised a “new Sweden” that was determined to curb immigration, while the Social Democrats called on her to improve education and fight poverty in the country.

Exuberant celebrations

“We have now won a parliament with a female majority for the first time ever,” the 36-year-old said, adding that she would approach politics with a sense of humour.

She said politics “had been too serious in the past”.

“I am a real person, a girl who loves animals and the outdoor life,” she said.

As they were sworn in, the new cabinet said that their first priority would be to take office quickly so that they could begin implementing their plans for public services and the economy.

At least 15 right-wing politicians and two left-wingers are set to serve in the five-party coalition government, which comprises the Liberals, Moderates, Centre, Green Party and the Sweden Democrats.

The first cabinet meeting will be held on 10 February.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Sweden’s first female Prime Minister, Ingvar Carlsson, who served from 1994-1997, said women in parliament had achieved more in Sweden than men

Ms Batra — who campaigned on a platform of reducing immigration — said she had made a choice between governing more cautiously, by finding the best balance between security and freedom, or to “go further for Sweden”.

President Carl Bildt thanked the new government for forming an “all-party cabinet that still has some qualities of the past”.

Mr Bildt, who was prime minister from 1991-1992, said after the election it was clear the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats had made history.

“The record now stands and there is no prospect of it being broken for another 40 years,” he said.

“Congratulations and welcome to the minority government,” he said.

Image copyright AFP Image caption The Sweden Democrats, who were the fifth-strongest party in the election, are against immigration and backed a ban on burqas and full-face veils

‘Lessons to learn’

Mr Carlsson said that, as a woman, he had been able to learn from the success of women in politics.

“In the 90s I saw Sweden’s first government with women as a case study. That has always meant something to me.”

“If the feelings and thoughts you have about society or Sweden can lead to big changes it’s not just a case of having women in the cabinet — it’s also a case of trying to change the social structure and culture of the society and put it back on a better path.”

“I don’t think it’s possible to move forward with a government without great experts who have research and have a knowledge about the field.”

Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Commissioner for the Euro and Social Dialogue, said he hoped the Swedish new government “learns lessons” on the region’s relationship with the European Union.

“There have been significant changes in Europe,” he said.

“I think it’s about time that another country started preparing itself. And, of course, Sweden is a very good example for Europe.”

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