Sunday, September 19, the Swedish general elections were held. It was a close call for the parties in power, but they were given another 4 years. Just barely.
Before we get into who was voted for, let’s get the basics covered so we’re all on the same page.
Swedish Politics 101
Sweden is a democracy, but also a monarchy. The king has no official power, but does have certain duties. For example he chairs the Special Council held during a change of Government.
Every 4 years elections are held where the people of Sweden vote and elect their representatives for the parliament, or “Riksdag” in Swedish. The parliament has 349 seats. Whoever has the most seats gets to form a Government. Sort of… The Speaker nominates a Prime Minister or “Statsminister“. Unless an absolute majority (175 representatives) vote against this person the nomination stands.
On the Left: De Röd-Gröna (The Red-Greens)
The Social Democratic Party is the largest party in Sweden (by 0,6% as of the latest elections). They have been in power for the better part of the last century. They are further to the left than the social democratic parties in other European countries.
Referred to as “de gröna” or the Green Party, the party is environmentally oriented, but share a common agenda with both the Social Democratic Party and the Left Party.
The “Left” party, formerly known as “Left Party – Communists”, are the most left-wing party in the Swedish parliament. The party has its roots in the communist wave that swept through Europe in the early 1900’s and was formed following a split in the Social Democratic Party.
In the Blue Corner: Alliansen (The Alliance)
Since the election in 2006 the four major “blue” parties have joined in a coalition to jointly offer an alternative to the Social Democratic Party.
The Moderate Party is the pole opposite of the Social Democratic Party. At least, that is what history tells us. Objectively they are not at all far from the Social Democratic Party, at least when you compare notes. There are however strong ideological differences. This is the second largest party in the Swedish parliament.
The Liberal People’s Party are very close to the Moderate Party. They share most core values but differ in certain ways on free choice and free economy.
The Centre Party used to be a green party with a strong focus on farmers. In recent years the party has focused more on being a party for entrepreneurs and a non-left-wing alternative to the Swedish Green Party.
The Christian Democrats have a very low-profile religious party program. The party tends to focus on Christian values rather than the Christian faith. They are the smallest party in the coalition and came out tied with the Left Party at 5,60% – the lowest percentage of any party in the Swedish parliament.
Introducing the Newcomers – Sverigedemokraterna (sd)
For the first time since 1994 there is another party in the parliament. This party is known as the Sweden Democrats. Their values and political orientation are not exactly clear. They describe themselves as a nationalist movement and can be compared in some ways to Dansk Folkeparti in Denmark or the FPÖ in Austria.
The Playing Field
The Alliance secured a total of 173 seats in the Swedish Parliament.
The Red-Greens managed to grab 156 seats.
None of the seven parties are considering working with the Sweden Democrats to form a government. They hold 20 seats.
This means that in Sweden nothing really changes. The four parties that were in power for the last four years were basically re-elected. There could be a problem, though.
The Sweden Democrats have a swing vote with their 20 seats. Should they decide to vote with the Red-Greens (which doesn’t seem likely) then they could cause problems for the Government. If that happens three times, then the consequences could constitute a confidence motion.
The reactions in Sweden have been strong. Not because there is a minority-coalition government being put together, but rather because 300 000 Swedish people voted for the Sweden Democrats, or 5.70% of the Swedish voters. A majority of the Swedish people [read: everyone who voted for another party] are not sympathetic to the Sweden Democrats. Some are more outspoken in their critique of the party than others, but most of Sweden agrees that the parties core values are not in line with those of the majority of Swedes.