Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden

The Swedish constitution allows the Prime Minister to appoint one of the Ministers in the cabinet as deputy prime minister (Swedish: statsministerns ställföreträdare, sometimes unofficially known as vice statsminister), in case the Prime Minister for some reason is prevented from performing his or her duties. If a Deputy Prime Minister has not been appointed, the Minister in the cabinet who has served the longest time (and if there are several with equal experience the one who is oldest) takes over as head of government (these are marked in italic in the table below).

Deputy to the Prime Minister of Sweden
Statsministerns ställföreträdare
Lesser coat of arms of Sweden
Morgan Johansson

since 10 September 2019
AppointerThe Prime Minister
Term lengthNo fixed term,
Serves at the pleasure of the Prime Minister
Inaugural holderGunnar Sträng
FormationJanuary 1, 1975
WebsiteGovernment of Sweden

A Deputy Prime Minister can only serve as Prime Minister in a temporary function, as the resignation of a Prime Minister automatically includes the entire cabinet, and the Instrument of Government requires the Speaker of the Riksdag to dismiss the cabinet in the case of the death of the Prime Minister.


Origins of the office

Historically, under the 1809 Instrument of Government the Minister for Foreign Affairs (the "second excellency" and to date the only formal "minister" save for the Prime Minister, the other cabinet members' formal title being Councillor of State for... etc) was to function as acting Prime Minister should the Prime Minister not be able not to perform his duties. With the enactment of the 1974 Instrument of Government and the inauguration of Thorbjörn Fälldin's three-party cabinet in 1976, Per Ahlmark was formally sworn in as the first to hold the office of Deputy Prime Minister.

Palme assassination

In 1986 Deputy Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson became acting Prime Minister for the transitional cabinet from March 1 to March 12, upon the assassination of Olof Palme, the only time the death of the Prime Minister has caused the Deputy Prime Minister to temporarily assume the office. Carlsson subsequently received the task of forming a new cabinet from the Speaker of the Riksdag. The cabinet was approved by the Riksdag on March 12, 1986, effectively reappointing most cabinet members in their previous offices.

Role in coalition governments

The role and position of a Deputy Prime Minister may vary. In the five last coalition cabinets, Fälldin III, Bildt and Reinfeldt I and II, and Löfven, the Deputy Prime Minister was the head of the second-largest coalition partner (Liberals in Fälldin III, Bildt and Reinfeldt II, Centre in Reinfeldt I, Green in Löfven). In the governments Fälldin I and II, however, the Deputy Prime Ministership belonged to the Liberal Party despite the fact that it was the smallest of the three members. The reason for this might be ascribed to an unwillingness on behalf of the Centre and Liberals to give this position to the Moderates, due to ideological differences. In all of these governments, however, the Deputy Prime Minister also had a regular Cabinet portfolio.

In July 2015, the office of the Deputy Prime Minister was the subject of some political debate. Following a brief illness of the social democratic Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, the Prime Minister's office revealed that the Deputy Prime Minister Åsa Romson of the Green Party, although named Vice statsminister ("Vice Prime Minister") when the cabinet took office in October 2014, was in fact not expected to temporarily assume the duties of the Prime Minister as Statsministerns ställföreträdare ("Deputy of the Prime Minister") as stated in the Instrument of Government, instead yielding to the most senior minister of the cabinet. Effectively this made the social democratic then-Foreign Minister Margot Wallström the actual deputy of the Prime Minister, due to seniority rather than appointment. It also rendered the title of Vice statsminister an honorary title, for the most senior member of the party functioning as junior partner in the governing coalition, rather than an actual function.[1]

Role in one-party governments

The situation is different in the one-party governments that have existed since the position of Deputy Prime Minister was introduced in 1976, namely the Liberal Ullsten government and the Social Democratic governments Palme II, Carlsson I-III and Persson. While Mona Sahlin might well have been described as something of a "successor-in-waiting" (even if she ultimately did not succeed Ingvar Carlsson to the Premiership), the other Deputy Prime Ministers have tended to be older and experienced politicians who have often been in charge of coordinating the work of the Government and may also have been in charge of some policy areas of their own which were not substantial enough to warrant a full-time Cabinet position, such as Bo Ringholm, who was Minister of Sport concurrently with being Deputy Prime Minister.

Legal status

According to 10 § Chapter 6 of the Instrument of Government, the Prime Minister may appoint a deputy who assumes the duties of the Prime Minister in case the latter is for some reason prevented from performing their duties. If such a deputy has not been appointed or if the appointed deputy is prevented from performing their duties, the minister who has served for the longest period of time assumes the office. If two or more ministers have served for an equal amount of time, seniority decides.[2]

List of officeholders

Color key

 Independent    Social Democratic    Moderate    Centre    Left    Liberals    Christian Democrats    Green    Sweden Democrats  

Deputy Prime Minister Position Took office Left office Duration Party Prime Minister
Per Ahlmark
Minister for Employment8 October 19767 March 19781 year, 150 daysLiberal People'sThorbjörn Fälldin (C)
Ola Ullsten
Minister for Employment,
Minister for International
Development Cooperation
7 March 197818 October 1978225 daysLiberal People'sThorbjörn Fälldin (C)
Sven Romanus
Minister for Justice18 October 197812 October 1979359 daysIndependentOla Ullsten (FP)
Ingemar Mundebo
Minister for Justice12 October 19791 August 1980294 daysLiberal People'sThorbjörn Fälldin (C)
Ola Ullsten
Minister for Foreign Affairs1 August 19808 October 19822 years, 68 daysLiberal People'sThorbjörn Fälldin (C)
Ingvar Carlsson
(born 1934)
Minister for the Environment8 October 198228 February 19863 years, 143 daysSocial DemocraticOlof Palme (S)
Svante Lundkvist
Minister for Agriculture28 February 19869 October 1986223 daysSocial DemocraticIngvar Carlsson (S)
Kjell-Olof Feldt
(born 1931)
Minister for Finance9 October 198616 February 19903 years, 130 daysSocial DemocraticIngvar Carlsson (S)
Lena Hjelm-Wallén
(born 1943)
Minister for International
Development Cooperation
16 February 199027 February 199011 daysSocial DemocraticIngvar Carlsson (S)
Odd Engström
27 February 19904 October 19911 year, 219 daysSocial DemocraticIngvar Carlsson (S)
Bengt Westerberg
(born 1943)
Minister for Health and Social Affairs4 October 19917 October 19943 years, 3 daysLiberal People'sCarl Bildt (M)
Mona Sahlin
(born 1957)
Minister for Gender Equality7 October 199416 November 19951 year, 40 daysSocial DemocraticIngvar Carlsson (S)
Lena Hjelm-Wallén
(born 1943)
Minister for Foreign Affairs
16 November 199521 October 20026 years, 339 daysSocial DemocraticIngvar Carlsson (S)
(1995 – 1996)
Göran Persson (S)
(1996 – 2002)
Margareta Winberg
(born 1943)
Minister for Gender Equality21 October 200231 October 20031 year, 10 daysSocial DemocraticGöran Persson (S)
Marita Ulvskog
(born 1951)
Minister for Culture and Sports31 October 20031 June 2004214 daysSocial DemocraticGöran Persson (S)
Lars Engqvist
(born 1945)
Minister for Health and Social Affairs1 June 20041 October 2004122 daysSocial DemocraticGöran Persson (S)
Laila Freivalds
(born 1942)
Minister for Foreign Affairs1 October 20041 November 200431 daysSocial DemocraticGöran Persson (S)
Bo Ringholm
(born 1942)
Minister for European Union Affairs1 November 20046 October 20061 year, 339 daysSocial DemocraticGöran Persson (S)
Maud Olofsson
(born 1955)
Minister for Enterprise and Energy6 October 20065 October 20103 years, 364 daysCentreFredrik Reinfeldt (M)
Jan Björklund
(born 1962)
Minister for Education5 October 20103 October 20143 years, 363 daysLiberal People'sFredrik Reinfeldt (M)
Margot Wallström
(born 1954)
Minister for Foreign Affairs3 October 201410 September 20194 years, 342 daysSocial DemocraticStefan Löfven (S)
Åsa Romson (Honorary title)
(born 1972)
Minister for the Environment3 October 201425 May 20161 year, 235 daysGreenStefan Löfven (S)
Isabella Lövin (Honorary title)
(born 1963)
Minister for International Development Cooperation25 May 20165 February 20214 years, 256 daysGreenStefan Löfven (S)
Per Bolund (Honorary title)
(born 1971)
Minister for the Environment
Minister for the Climate
5 February 2021Incumbent125 daysGreenStefan Löfven (S)
Morgan Johansson
(born 1970)
Minister for Justice10 September 2019Incumbent1 year, 273 daysSocial DemocraticStefan Löfven (S)



    1. "Green leader wouldn't replace PM in crisis". The Local. 18 July 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
    2. Riksdagsförvaltningen. "Kungörelse (1974:152) om beslutad ny regeringsform Svensk författningssamling 1974:1974:152 t.o.m. SFS 2018:1903 - Riksdagen". (in Swedish). Retrieved 2021-01-13.