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Kjell Stefan Löfven (Swedish pronunciation: [¹steːfan lœ¹veːn]; officially Löfvén; born 21 July 1957) is a Swedish politician serving as Prime Minister of Sweden since 2014 and Leader of the Social Democratic Party since 2012.[1]

Stefan Löfven
Tallinn Digital Summit. Handshake Stefan Löfven and Jüri Ratas (36718147193) (cropped).jpg
Prime Minister of Sweden
Assumed office
3 October 2014
MonarchCarl XVI Gustaf
DeputyMargot Wallström
Morgan Johansson
Åsa Romson
Isabella Lövin
Preceded byFredrik Reinfeldt
Leader of the Social Democratic Party
Assumed office
27 January 2012
General SecretaryCarin Jämtin
Lena Rådström Baastad
Preceded byHåkan Juholt
Leader of the Opposition
In office
27 January 2012 – 3 October 2014
MonarchCarl XVI Gustaf
DeputyCarina Moberg
Mikael Damberg
Preceded byHåkan Juholt
Succeeded byFredrik Reinfeldt
Personal details
Born
Kjell Stefan Löfvén

(1957-07-21) 21 July 1957 (age 62)
Stockholm, Sweden
Political partySocial Democrats
Spouse(s)
Ulla Löfvén (m. 2003)
ResidenceSager House
Signature
Military service
Allegiance Sweden
Branch/serviceSwedish Air Force
Years of service1976–1977
RankPrivate

After leaving school and completing his mandatory military service in the Swedish Air Force, Löfven qualified as a welder and subsequently began a career as an active trade unionist. He rose to be elected as an ombudsman within the Swedish Metalworkers' Union (SMU) and was eventually elected as the first Chairman of IF Metall in January 2006, a major new trade union formed from a number of smaller unions, including the SMU, voting to merge.

After the resignation of Håkan Juholt, in January 2012, Löfven was unanimously selected by the executive board of the Social Democratic Party to replace him as the party's new leader. This also made Löfven the Leader of the Opposition, despite the fact that he did not have a seat in the Riksdag at the time.[2][3]

Löfven led the Social Democrats into the 2014 election. Despite initial opinion poll leads, the party only gained a single seat, but due to the poor performance of the governing Moderate Party, who lost 23 seats, Löfven was able to form a minority coalition government with the Green Party. He was appointed Prime Minister of Sweden on 3 October. He secured a second term in the aftermath of the inconclusive 2018 election, which saw both main parties suffer losses; after a months-long impasse that set a new record for government formation, Löfven was able to secure abstentions from MPs belonging to the Centre Party, the Left Party and the Liberals, and was re-elected by the Riksdag in January 2019.

Early life and educationEdit

Löfven was born 21 July 1957 in Aspudden, Stockholm. He was placed in an orphanage 10 months after his birth. Löfven was subsequently looked after by a foster family from Sunnersta, Sollefteå, where he grew up. According to the agreement with this family, his birth mother would regain custody of him when she was able to; however, this did not happen.[4]

His foster father Ture Melander (1926–2003) was a lumberjack and later a factory worker, while his foster mother, Iris Melander (née Söderlund, born 1929), worked as an in-home caregiver.[5] He studied at Sollefteå High School before starting a 48-week welding course at Arbetsmarknadsutbildningen (AMU, Unemployment Career Training) in Kramfors, no record of completed training or working experience in the field exist. Löfven later studied social work at Umeå University, but dropped out after a year and a half.[4]

Trade unionistEdit

After completing his compulsory military service (as common soldier but as Munitions Systems specialist Conscript) in the Swedish Air Force at the Jämtland Air Force Wing (F 4) airbase 1976–77, Löfven began his career in 1978 as a welder at Hägglunds in Örnsköldsvik. Two years later, he was chosen as the group's union representative, and went on to hold a succession of union posts. In 1995, he started as an employed ombudsman in the Swedish Metalworkers' Union, working in the areas of contract negotiations and international affairs. In 2001, he was elected vice-chairman of the Metalworkers' Union; in November 2005 was elected as the first chairman of the newly formed trade union IF Metall.[2]

Political careerEdit

 
Löfven chosen as the Social Democratic Party's new leader, January 2012.

Löfven has been a member of the Social Democrats since the age of 13 and was active in SSU, the youth league, in his teens. Löfven was elected to the executive board of the Social Democrats in 2006, shortly after becoming chairman of trade union IF Metall.

Leader of the Social DemocratsEdit

In January 2012, following the resignation of Håkan Juholt, it was reported that Löfven was being considered as his successor. On 26 January 2012 the executive board nominated Löfven to become the party's new leader[6][7][8] On 27 January 2012, Löfven was elected Leader in a party-room ballot.[9][10] Löfven was confirmed as party leader at the party's bi-annual congress on 4 April 2013.[11]

Löfven led his party through the 2014 European Parliament election where the Social Democrats retained their position as the largest party from Sweden in the European Parliament. However, the election results at 24.19% was a slightly inferior than the result in 2009 European Parliament election, the party's seats in the European Parliament was reduced from six to five[12] and the party's results was the lowest in an election at the national level since universal suffrage was introduced in 1921.

Prime MinisterEdit

 
Stefan Löfven and his Cabinet on 3 October 2014.

Löfven led his party through the 2014 general election, which resulted in a hung parliament.[13] Their election result of 31.0%, up from 30.7%, was slightly better than the result in the 2010 general election, but the result was also the party's second worst result in a general election to the Riksdag since universal suffrage was introduced in 1921.

He announced that he would form a minority coalition government consisting of his own party and the Green Party. On 2 October 2014, the Riksdag approved Löfven to become Prime Minister, and he took office on the following day, alongside his Cabinet.[14] The Social Democrats and the Green Party voted in favour of Löfven becoming Prime Minister, while close ally the Left Party abstained. The opposition Alliance-parties also abstained while the far-right Sweden Democrats voted against.

Löfven expressed a desire for bipartisan agreement between the Government and the opposition Alliance parties, and together they marked three areas where enhanced cooperation would be initiated. These three areas were the pension system, future energy development, and security and defence policy.

Domestic policyEdit

 
Carin Jämtin, Margot Wallström and Löfven at the Stockholm Pride parade in August 2014
 
Löfven with flowers the day after the 2017 Stockholm truck attack
 
Council of the European Union in December 2017

2014 budget crisisEdit

The Government's first budget was introduced to the Riksdag on 23 October 2014. The Left Party, which had been given influence over the budget, supported it; however, the non-socialist coalition, the Alliance, introduced a competing budget to the Riksdag on 10 November, as they had promised prior to the 2014 election, and the Sweden Democrats also introduced their own budget on the same day.

According to Riksdag practice, the parties support their own budget and if their budget falls they abstain from voting in the second round. However, on 2 December, the far-right Sweden Democrats announced that, after their own budget fell in the first voting round, they would support the Alliance parties' budget in the second voting round, thus giving that budget a majority in the Riksdag. This caused a crisis for the newly-elected Government, which was exacerbated after their own budget was voted down by the Alliance parties and the Sweden Democrats on 3 December. Löfven immediately announced that he would call an early election, to be held on 22 March 2015.[15]

On 22 December, sources within the Riksdag leaked information that the Government was negotiating with the Alliance parties (the Moderate Party, Centre Party, Liberal People's Party and the Christian Democrats) to find a solution and to avoid a fresh election.[16] On 27 December, the Government and the Alliance parties held a joint press conference where they announced that the six parties had reached an agreement designed to ensure that the Government's budgets would be voted through in the second round of voting. The agreement was dubbed "Decemberöverenskommelsen" (December Agreement), was called historical by Löfven and was agreed to remain in force until the 2022 election, regardless of the results of the 2018 election.[17][failed verification] Subsequently, Löfven announced that he no longer intended to call a snap election.[18] The centre-right Alliance withdrew from the agreements in 2015, but allowed the minority government to continue governing.

2015 European migrant crisisEdit

In 2015, when a rising number of refugees and migrants[19] began to make the journey to the European Union to seek asylum, Europe was hit by a migrant crisis and Sweden received over 150,000 refugees in 2015.

During the autumn of 2015, the reception of refugees increased significantly to over 80,000 in two months and with terror group Islamic state rampage in the Middle East and the following attacks in Paris in November 2015, the Löfven cabinet significantly reverted Sweden's migration policy. On 23 October 2015, a bipartisan migration agreement was signed between the cabinet parties and the oppositional Moderate Party, the Centre Party, the Liberals and the Christian Democrats which included, among many other changes, temporary residency permits, total financial support requirements for family reunification and by law forcing municipalities to help with sheltering refugees in order to better distribute the burden across the country.[20]

On 12 November 2015, the cabinet introduced temporary border controls with immediate effect. The cabinet also proposed identity checks for every individual passing the Danish–Swedish border and closing of the Öresund Bridge, giving up the latter on 8 December 2015 after severe criticism.[21] On 17 December 2015, the Riksdag passed legislation to introduce identity checks with the votes 175 in favor, 39 against and 135 abstained.[22] On 4 January 2016, the identity checks was introduced,[23] which means that people who can not show a valid identity card, license or passport are not allowed to cross the border into Sweden, breaking with the Nordic Passport Union for the first time since 1954. Only twelve hours later the Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen announced that Denmark will implement temporary border controls along the German–Danish border with immediate effect as a consequence of Sweden's identity checks.[24]

2017 national security crisisEdit

In July 2017, it became known to the public that Maria Ågren, a former Director-General of the Swedish Transport Agency, had been investigated after having cleared confidential information threatening the security of the country. The act was made in connection with a procurement of IT services with a non-governmental company in 2015. Among the cleared data were wanted vehicles, armored vehicles, the entire Swedish vehicles register, Swedish company secrets, the Swedish police criminal record- and suspicion registers, the Swedish state's internal security system and information about agents within the Swedish Military Intelligence and Security Service.[25]

Several days after it first became public, Löfven held a press conference on 24 July 2017 where he said that "there's been an accident at the Transport Agency".[26] Responsible cabinet minister Anna Johansson said she had been aware of the situation since January 2017 and blamed her former state secretary Erik Bromander for not having informed her earlier.[27] Cabinet ministers Anders Ygeman and Peter Hultqvist were reported to have been aware of the situation since the beginning of 2016, but chose not to inform the head of government.[28]

All parties within the Swedish opposition have opened up for a vote of confidence against cabinet ministers Anna Johansson, Anders Ygeman and Peter Hultqvist in order to remove them from office, with some parties calling for vote of confidence against Löfven as Prime Minister. Such a vote would, if supported by several parties, result in a removal of the Löfven cabinet.[29] In a press conference on 27 July Löfven announced a government reshuffling with Ygeman and Johansson resigning. He also stated that he would not resign himself over the incident.

Foreign policyEdit

 
Löfven with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, 11 February 2017
 
Löfven and other Nordic leaders with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the India-Nordic Summit in Stockholm, 17 April 2018

In his Policy Statement, introduced to the Riksdag on 3 October 2014, Löfven said that his Government would recognise the State of Palestine. On 30 October 2014 the Government, through Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström, announced that the Government had decided to officially recognize the State of Palestine and explained the recognition by saying that it is the only solution to get to a two-state solution between Israel and the State of Palestine. Sweden is the first country within the European Union to do so after gaining membership (with other members, such as Poland, withholding recognition previously issued under Communist rule).[30] Israel called the move unconsidered and Israel recalled its ambassador, Isaac Bachman, following the recognition. Bachman returned to Sweden on 29 November 2014.[31] In December 2015, Löfven caused outrage in Israel by claiming that stabbing attacks are not considered terrorism by international standards; he later revised his comment, explaining that it is now known that the stabbing attacks are sanctioned by some terror organisations.[32]

 
Löfven with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the International Arctic Forum in Saint Petersburg, 9 April 2019

Löfven has said that the ongoing negotiations of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the European Union and the United States are very important and that it is in Sweden's interest that the managed trade agreement is implemented. However, he has said that the managed trade agreement shall not aggravate social conditions or human rights, which should be a high priority while negotiating.[33]

Löfven visited Iran in February 2017 and held talks with Ali Khamenei to improve economic relations.[34]

Löfven has supported closer security cooperation with Saudi Arabia.[35][36][37]

2018 general electionEdit

Stefan Löfven vowed to make the 2018 election a referendum about the welfare state.[38] Despite poor opinion polling, the Social Democrats fared better than initially expected, winning 28.26 percent of the popular vote. The red-green bloc ended up having a slight advantage in a hung parliament of 144 seats to 143 for the centre-right coalition Alliansen. Löfven announced after the election results that he intended to remain as Prime Minister and called for the "burial of bloc politics" in Sweden.[39]

However, on 25 September 2018, the Riksdag approved a motion of no confidence against Löfven with a 204-142 vote, resulting in a caretaker government with Löfven as acting Prime Minister.[40] While it initially looked as though Löfven would not remain in office, Alliance leaders subsequently failed to secure enough votes or abstentions to replace him.

After a record-long period of government formation, Löfven was eventually re-elected as Prime Minister on 18 January 2019, after an agreement was struck between the Social Democrats, Greens, Liberals, and Centre Party, with the Left Party agreeing to abstain from voting against Löfven.[41][41] As a result, the minority coalition government of the Social Democrats and Green Party was reformed. The second Löfven Government was sworn in on 21 January.

Personal lifeEdit

Löfven enjoys sports and supports the ice hockey club Modo from Örnsköldsvik[42] and the football clubs Tottenham Hotspur[43] and GIF Sundsvall.[44]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Swedish parliament confirms Social Democrat's Lofven as new PM." Reuters. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Ordförandens sida" (in Swedish). IF Metall. Archived from the original on 28 January 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
  3. ^ "Trade Union leader new chairman of the Social Democrats - Stockholm News". stockholmnews.com. Archived from the original on 14 September 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  4. ^ a b Holmberg, Elin (26 January 2012). "Stefan Löfven: "Sörvåge är hemma"". allehanda.se (in Swedish). Retrieved 27 January 2012.
  5. ^ Sveriges dödbok 1901-2009 [Swedish death index 1901-2009] (in Swedish) (Version 5.0 ed.). Solna: Sveriges släktforskarförbund. 2010. ISBN 978-91-87676-59-8.
  6. ^ Stenberg, Ewa (26 January 2012). "Jag kommer att vara jätteglad att fortsätta bygga". Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 26 January 2012.
  7. ^ "Källor till SvD: Löfven ny S-ledare". Svenska Dagbladet (in Swedish). 26 January 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
  8. ^ "Election hopeful Stefan Löfven aims to return Sweden to the left". Financial Times. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  9. ^ "Positiva reaktioner på Löfven". Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). 27 January 2012. Archived from the original on 28 January 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
  10. ^ Richard Orange. "Tough on finance, tough on migrants: how Stefan Löfven brought Sweden's left in from the cold". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
  11. ^ "Stefan Löfven vald av kongressen". Socialdemokraterna. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
  12. ^ "Val till Europaparlamentet - Valda" (in Swedish). Valmyndigheten. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  13. ^ "Sweden Social Democrats will end tax cuts if they win election". Reuters. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  14. ^ "Sverige har fått en ny statsminister" (in Swedish). Dagens Nyheter. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  15. ^ "Stefan Löfven utlyser extra val" (in Swedish). Svenska Dagbladet. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  16. ^ "Förhandlingar pågår för att undvika regeringskaos" (in Swedish). Sveriges Television. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  17. ^ "Så fungerar överenskommelsen" (in Swedish). Dagens Nyheter. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  18. ^ "Sparar över 100 miljoner på inställt nyval" (in Swedish). Aftonbladet. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  19. ^ "UNHCR viewpoint: 'Refugee' or 'migrant' – Which is right?". UNHCR."The majority of people arriving this year in Italy and Greece especially have been from countries mired in war or which otherwise are considered to be 'refugee-producing' and for whom international protection is needed. However, a smaller proportion is from elsewhere, and for many of these individuals, the term 'migrant' would be correct."
  20. ^ Nyheter, SVT. "Löfven: Får man inte asyl ska man återvända".
  21. ^ The Government drop plans to close the Öresund Bridge. (in Swedish)
  22. ^ The Riksdag passes legislation on identity checks. (in Swedish)
  23. ^ Sweden implements identity checks today. (in Swedish)
  24. ^ Welle, Deutsche. "Denmark introduces temporary controls along German border | DW | 04.01.2016". www.dw.com.
  25. ^ Confidential informations that may be cleared (in Swedish)
  26. ^ Löfven about the IT-scandal: There's been an accident (in Swedish)
  27. ^ Anna Johansson blames her former state secretary (in Swedish)
  28. ^ Hultqvist has been aware of the situation since March 2016 (in Swedish)
  29. ^ Political scientist: Ministers may be forced to resign (in Swedish)
  30. ^ "Sweden recognizes State of Palestine". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  31. ^ "Ambassadör Bachman återvänder". Israel Idag. Archived from the original on 23 November 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  32. ^ "Swedish PM: Knife attacks are not classified as terrorism". Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  33. ^ "Ambassadör Löfven slår tillbaka mot Sjöstedt". Aftonbladet.se. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  34. ^ "PressTV-US involved in ME bitter events: Leader".
  35. ^ "Löfven hesitates calling Saudi Arabia a dictatorship". Radio Sweden. 29 January 2019.
  36. ^ "Prime Minister Stefan Löfven to visit Saudi Arabia". Government.se. 20 October 2016.
  37. ^ "Sweden not stopping Saudi weapons exports after 'horrible' journalist death". The Local. 23 October 2018.
  38. ^ "Löfven vill göra valet till en folkomröstning om välfärden". DN.SE (in Swedish). 13 June 2018.
  39. ^ Nyheter, SVT (10 September 2018). "Löfven: "Den här kvällen borde bli blockpolitikens begravning"". Retrieved 25 September 2018.
  40. ^ "Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven voted out by parliament". The Local. 25 September 2018. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
  41. ^ a b "Stefan Löfven voted back in as Swedish prime minister". www.thelocal.se. 18 January 2019. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  42. ^ Staffas, Anders (2 April 2016). "Exklusivt: Statsministern Stefan Löfven hyllar Leksands IF: "En fantastisk prestation"". Dalarnas Tidningar (in Swedish). Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  43. ^ Käck, Andreas (2 November 2015). "Krismöte – sedan gick han på match". Aftonbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  44. ^ Nordström, Maria (9 August 2014). ""Hoppas verkligen att Giffarna går upp"". Sundsvalls Tidning (in Swedish). Retrieved 15 April 2017.

External linksEdit

Trade union offices
Preceded by
Göran Johnsson
Chair of IF Metall
2006–2012
Succeeded by
Anders Ferbe
Party political offices
Preceded by
Håkan Juholt
Leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party
2012–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Fredrik Reinfeldt
Prime Minister of Sweden
2014–present
Incumbent
Order of precedence
Preceded by
Andreas Norlén
as Speaker of the Riksdag
Swedish order of precedence
as Prime Minister
Succeeded by
Svante Lindqvist
as Marshal of the Realm