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Election 09 September 2018

An exit poll by Sweden's SVT public broadcaster projects the center-left Social Democrats were in first place with 28.3 percent of the vote. The Moderates were at 19.8 percent, and the far-right Sweden Democrats (SD) a party with neo-Nazi roots was in third place with 17.6 percent. Sweden's left-wing governing bloc made up of the Social Democrats, the Green Party and the Left Party is at 40.6 percent, compared with 40.2 percent for the four-party center-right opposition led by the conservative Moderate Party. That meant some form of "grand coalition" between the center-left and the alliance may be necessary, unless one of the groups agreed to govern with the Sweden Democrats.

The dramatic Swedish election in 2014 saw the Social Democrats and Greens form a minority government then narrowly avoid its collapse a few months later thanks to a cross-party agreement with the opposition Alliance, and with Swedish politics only fragmenting more since then, the next election isn't likely to be straightforward either.

Europes refugee crisis in 2015 saw Sweden receiving a record-breaking 163,000 asylum applicants. Up until that point the country of 10.1 million people had been a beacon of liberalism in Europe by being so open to refugees. But that all changed when the countrys asylum applications per capita were the second highest in the EU. It saw Swedens minority government perform a dramatic u-turn, putting up temporary border checks and tightening the rules for future arrivals.

The Swedish economy is working very well at the moment and unemployment is lower than in most other countries. But the unemployment rate among Swedes was 4.4% last year, compared with 15.3% among its foreign-born nationals. In addition the countrys gun murder toll has gone up sharply in recent years, hitting an 11-year high in 2017, with 43 deaths. There is no suggestion this has anything to do with Swedens 2015 asylum seeker influx but organised crime and violence is acknowledged to be a problem in the immigrant-heavy suburbs of Swedens major cities.

The political crisis is about something else: it is to do with discontent and a raising of expectations that politics does not deliver what people think it should deliver. The important thing is and its like the Brexit tendency in Britain or Trump in the US people do not feel at home culturally, they doubt that Sweden is on the right track.

National number-crunching agency Statistics Sweden (SCB) presented the results of its major Party Preference Survey on 01 June 2017, detailing how voters would cast their ballot. The results showed that the government parties, the Social Democrats and the Green Party, would receive 35.6 percent of the votes. The opposition Alliance Parties (the Centre, the Liberals, the Moderates and the Christian Democrats) would receive 37.6 percent, the Sweden Democrats 18.4 percent, the Left Party 6.3 percent and other parties 2.2 percent of the votes. Polling at 18.1 percent, the opposition Moderate Party's 4.7 percentage point plummet since November's poll confirmed the plunge taken by the party in several other polls throughout the spring.

The main parties and their leaders prepared for September 9th, 2018.

  • The nationalist Sweden Democrats were founded in 1988, evolving from far-right organizations with neo-Nazi roots. In recent years the party has worked to tone down its image as a racist and extremist group. However, cutting immigration remains the party's main goal. Just over a year ahead of the 2018 election they polled as Swedens second largest party. The populist anti-immigration party, led by the smartly-dressed Jimmie Akesson, is on course for its best-ever election showing. If it gets around 25% of ballots, as some opinion polls have suggested this summer, it would continue a quirky trend of the party doubling its vote share at each election.

  • The Social Democrats are the oldest and largest party in Sweden and dominated the political landscape until the 1990s. The party promotes workers' rights and built the modern Swedish welfare state, paid for by progressive taxation. The main player in Swedens center-left coalition and the party of Prime Minister Stefan Lofven. it is the juggernaut of Swedish politics and has been the biggest party in elections for a century. After a crushing defeat in 2006, the Social Democrats continued to lose votes in 2010, particularly from Sweden's urban middle class. But the party bounced back after Lfven took over as leader and returned to power in a coalition with the Green Party following the general election in September 2014.

  • The Greens first won seats in the Swedish parliament in 1988. They had hoped to become the third largest party in the September 2014 elections, but lost out to the nationalist Sweden Democrats. The Greens did, however, enter government for the first time in 2014, after forming a coalition with the Social Democrats. The Greens have plummeted in the polls and are struggling to take back any meaningful ground. Will it suffer as a result of its time in power or benefit from climate change becoming a more prominent issue since the countrys wildfire-splattered summer? The environmentally-friendly parties saw a spike in support after Swedens outbreak of wildfires over the summer, putting climate change on the electoral agenda.

  • The Moderates' traditional focus on law and order issues, job creation and cutting taxes does not appear to be resonating to the degree that it once did as Sweden's political climate fragments. The Moderates are Swedens biggest opposition party at the moment, but with recent polls showing them battling for popularity with the Sweden Democrats, they may not be for much longer. The center-right movement ousted the Social Democrats in 2006 and had an eight-year spell in power.

  • The Centre Party has rural roots, emerging from Sweden's Farmers' League, which was set up more than one hundred years ago, and while agricultural and environmental issues remain key concerns alongside allowing local communities to make their own decisions, the party has tried to attract urban voters more recently by promising help for small businesses and criticizing tough work permit rules for foreigners. A Statistics Sweden survey published in June 2017 gave the Centre Party 11.3 percent of the vote, their highest figures in a Statistics Sweden poll in 27 years. Key to their recent revival has likely been a clearer distancing from the polarizing Sweden Democrats than the Moderates that has allowed them to nab more centrist center-right voters.

  • The Liberal Party is part of the center-right Alliance. Its core supporters are middle-class voters. The party is focused on improving education, encouraging more open immigration, joining Nato and nuclear expansion. It also promotes what it calls feminism without socialism, aiming to secure equal opportunities by investing in work sectors dominated by women and encouraging men to share childcare responsibilities.

  • The Christian Democrats have been trying to move away from their religious roots and build wider support, but the party is struggling to gain popularity. It only just reached the four-percent threshold needed to secure seats in the Swedish parliament in the last general election in September 2014, and polls in 2017 suggest it could fall below the watermark in the forthcoming election. Areas their policies focus on include welfare for the elderly and a hard-line stance on extremism.

  • The Left Party is the most left-wing group in the Swedish parliament. It has a long history and described itself as communist until the 1990s. The Left Party has never served in government but usually offers informal support to Social Democrat governments whenever they are in power.

  • The Feminist Initiative calls its ideology "anti-racist feminism" and argues that Sweden's image as a tolerant, equal society is not a reality. It wants women and men to be entitled to the same rights, opportunities and responsibilities. The party also speaks out against racial discrimination and violence and wants to stop all military spending and arms exports by Sweden.

    Swedish voters aged between 18 and 29 see climate change and the environment as the most important political issues, according to a December 2017 survey commissioned by radio station Sveriges Radio. Carried out by pollsters Novus, the survey showed that 14 percent of the 1,003 people who took part think climate change and the environment is the most important issue today. It was followed by school and education in second place, then immigration.

    Like elsewhere in Europe in recent times the prospect of a sharp turn towards populism loomed over this election. It comes in the shape of Sweden Democrats: polls have predicted the right-wing nationalists could get up to 28.5% of the vote. If the party won some form of power it could see a shift in its relationship with Brussels and a weakening of the union. Polling over the summer has put the ruling Social Democrats on as low as a 21% vote share - down 10% on its showing at Swedens last parliamentary election in 2014 and the partys worst showing for more than a century.

    Sweden's two traditional blocs emerged neck-and-neck after the country's September 9 election. Lofven's center-left bloc won 144 seats, compared with 143 for the rival center-right Alliance bloc. Both fell short of a majority as the far-right, anti-immigration Sweden Democrats made gains, giving the party 62 seats in the 349-seat parliament.

    Swedish PM Stefan Lofven lost a mandatory confidence vote on 25 September 2018. The confidence vote is mandatory after a general election. Lofven's ouster was expected and now it was up to the speaker, Andreas Norlen of the opposition Alliance bloc, to task Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson with forming a new government.

    The opposition Alliance bloc comprised of the Moderate Party, Center Party, Liberals and Christian Democrats scored 40.3 percent of September's vote. The Alliance could achieve a majority if it teamed up with the Sweden Democrats. However, the Center Party and Liberals would likely not agree to join with the far right. The bloc's other two parties, the Moderates and Christian Democrats, are open to joining with the Sweden Democrats, provided they had no influence over policy.

    The Riksdag rejected the proposed minority coalition which would have been led by the nations second largest party, the Moderates. The vote on 14 November 2018 was 195 to 154 to block the plan from advancing. The outcome was a bit of a shock, as it was the first time in Swedish history that a proposal for a new prime minister did not pass. The vote was the first of four possible coalitions. According to polls, a majority of Moderate Party voters and a majority of currently serving Moderate Party politicians were open to a dialogue with the populist SD, but both the Centre Party and the Liberals rejected any form of cooperation with the Sweden Democrats (SD). If all four failed to pass, Speaker of the Riksdag, Andreas Norln, must call for a new election.

    Sweden looked set to finally resolve four months of political deadlock on 16 January 2019 and allow Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to take a second term in office. The Left party said it would abstain in a crucial vote, clearing the way for Lofven and his patchwork coalition. Lofven, leader of the Social Democrats, has been leading a caretaker government since elections on September 9 yielded inconclusive results. Although the Social Democrats won the most votes, their 31.1% support left them grappling to form a coalition in a country with eight mainstream parties and proportional representation. These problems were compounded by the fact that most other parties wanted to govern without the support of the Left and the far-right Sweden Democrats, who are rooted in Norwegian white supremacist circles.

    But the Social Democrats have managed to pull together an unusual union of the left and right wing by gaining the support of the Greens, Liberals, and the Center party. In doing so, however, Lofven has had to promise to take his traditional center-left party to the right. With the Left party abstaining from the vote, Lofven was pretty much guaranteed success. However, the leftists have warned that they would vote down the new government if the prime minister went forward with reforms on the labor law and rent hikes for newly-built homes.



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