STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson picked Social Democrat veteran Mikael Damberg as finance minister in her minority government on Tuesday as she pledged to fight climate change and gang crime, and strengthen the welfare system.
Damberg has been minister of the interior, where he has been the face of the government’s efforts to fight gang crime.
In a speech to parliament outlining policy aims Andersson said her government would champion “a green industrial revolution”, improve a welfare system sorely tested by the coronavirus pandemic and come to grips with gang violence.
“The serious violence is a poison that threatens our entire unity as a society,” she said.
A long-time government minister, Damberg had been widely expected to take over the finance portfolio held by Andersson herself for many years in former Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s centre-left coalition government.
Damberg will be forced to implement a budget in part formulated by three opposition parties, including the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, whose gains over the past decade lie at heart of Sweden’s recent political turmoil.
“I’m not inheriting any empty barns, on the contrary, the Swedish economy is strong,” Damberg told a news conference.
Last week, parliament adopted budget amendments from the opposition that heavily reshaped spending plans and Damberg can only look to change that in the spring supplementary budget bill, if he can find backing in the Riksdag.
Andersson named Lina Axelsson Kihlblom, 51, as school minister. The former principal will become Sweden’s first transgender minister.
Sweden will present a new action plan soon as it prepares for a worsening pandemic, she added. The country had its first confirmed case of the Omicron variant on Monday and both COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations have risen in recent weeks.
Andersson was narrowly elected premier by parliament for the second time in less than a week on Monday. She won a similar vote last week, but threw in the towel hours later after a junior coalition partner left the government over the lost budget vote.
The new cabinet may be short-lived, with the next general elections due in September next year.
(Reporting by Niklas Pollard and Johan Ahlander; Editing by Ed Osmond and Clarence Fernandez)