Sweden’s likely next prime minister has vowed to end segregation and “smoke out” the violence and wave of gang-related crime that has hit the country.
Magdalena Andersson, who would become Sweden’s first female leader, was backed by the ruling Social Democrats to take the leadership reigns from incumbent Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.
He wants to step down from his role before national elections due in September 2022.
Ms Andersson, currently Sweden's Finance Minister, said reducing the role of the private sector in education, health and elderly care, and addressing climate change would be priorities.
“I want ... no, I demand that we turn every stone to end segregation and smoke out the violence that threatens our entire community,” she said.
Sweden has in recent years struggled to rein in rising shootings and bombings — usually score-settling by organised criminal gangs involved in drug trafficking.
The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention says gun violence has been on the rise since 2005.
“Although it is difficult to explain the initial causes of the trend in Sweden, research shows that gun violence can escalate due to a social contagion effect, where one shooting tends to lead to another,” it said.
“It then becomes increasingly easy to resort to weapons and gun violence is used both offensively and in self-defence.
"At the same time, the increase in Sweden is limited to a very specific group — young men involved in criminal milieux in socially disadvantaged areas.”
While Ms Andersson is on track to become prime minister, her appointment is not assured.
Mr Lofven’s minority coalition with the Green Party has struggled since coming to power in 2014. Ms Andersson, 54, would need backing from the Greens as well as other parties to succeed Mr Lofven and lead the country.
Once he steps down, Ms Andersson would have to win a vote in the Swedish Parliament to become the nation's first female prime minister.
“With all the problems we have had, it is clear to people that we need to do more together,” she said.
Ms Andersson, the only daughter of a university professor and a teacher, first made a her name as a swimmer and twice won the Swedish national junior championship gold medal.