STOCKHOLM (AP) – Stefan Lofven, Sweden’s Social Democratic prime minister since 2014, said on Sunday he will resign as head of government and party in November.
The unexpected announcement, made during his annual summer speech, came before next year’s general election and after Lofven became the first Swedish leader to lose a motion in parliament in June.
Lofven said he had informed the party “that I want to leave my post as party chairman at the party congress in November and then also ask to be removed as prime minister.”
He said that 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 best conditions,” said Lofven, 63.
Giving up “isn’t easy, but it’s okay,” Lofven said, adding that there was also “a bit of sadness.”
It was not immediately clear who would replace Lofven.
Since 2012, he has been chairman of the Social Democrats, Sweden’s largest party that currently holds 100 of 349 seats in parliament. The party has no obvious replacement for Lofven, but the Swedish news agency TT pointed to Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson as a possible candidate.
A new leader for the Social Democratic Party will be elected at a party congress to be held from November 3-7, and that person must be confirmed as prime minister by parliament, in accordance with the Swedish Constitution.
Earlier this year, Lofven resigned after losing a vote of confidence and asked the speaker of the country’s parliament to try to form a new government instead of holding snap elections. He was able to form a bipartisan coalition government that was the same as the previous one.
After the 2018 elections, Sweden had a stagnant parliament because no one wanted to cooperate with the Sweden Democrats, a right-wing populist party that considers itself extremist. It took four months of negotiations to produce a government that Lofven presented in January 2019.
Sweden’s next general election is scheduled for September 11, 2022.