For much of this year, and from May as a paid occupation, I’ve been working for the Social Democrats towards the elections on Sunday. Swedish politics has many parties which were until recently grouped into the Left+Green bloc against the Right bloc. Each bloc had roughly half of the vote. To explain this to an American, we basically had 50% Bernie+Nader voters and 50% Democrat voters – and the Democrats were our right wing. Mainstream Republican politics have no place in Sweden.
Things changed with the growth of the Hate & Fear Party, who are xenophobic right-wing populists: the Tea Party in US terms. They got 13% of the parliamentary vote in 2014 and will probably get 20% on Sunday. These voters have moved to Hate & Fear from both of the previous blocs in roughly equal proportions. So now polls are 40% Left+Green, 40% Right, 20% Fear & Hate.
Here’s a snapshot of how I see our Social Democrat chances.
Local government: Nacka kommun. For reasons of social demography, we have never governed this affluent suburban area since its current borders were drawn in 1971. I’m optimistic about us gaining several seats here, but I would be pleasantly surprised if the Left+Green bloc actually gained the municipal council majority.
County government: Stockholm landsting (mainly organises hospitals, old-folks’ homes and public transport). The current Right bloc majority here is slim. I’m pretty confident that we will gain the upper hand.
Parliament and national government: riksdagen & regeringen. This is going to be messy. Parliament currently consists of eight parties. The cutoff to get in is 4% of the vote. (If a party gets 3.9%, then those votes are not taken into consideration.) Three parties are barely over the limit in the polls. The leading party in the polls, us Social Democrats, has only about 25%. We have been able to govern Sweden for four years together with the Greens only because the Right bloc has refused to collaborate with Hate & Fear. The rule is that the Prime Minister after Sunday is whoever doesn’t meet with enough parliamentary opposition to stop her.
As I understand things from current polls, our best chance is to form a Centrist coalition that excludes parties on the outer ends of the Left-Right axis, breaking up both of the earlier blocs. A possible alternative is that the Right bloc sticks together and makes the deal with Hate & Fear that they have refused in the past four years. A lot of Right bloc voters would be deeply ashamed of such a move.
It wouldn’t give Hate & Fear a seat at the government table, but they would definitely receive something. This has already (infamously) happened in a few local assemblies, and there Hate & Fear have proved an unreliable ally. In Gävle, for instance, Hate & Fear helped topple the Left+Green leadership but then refused to support the Right bloc’s municipal budget. Also, not only is Hate & Fear erratic as a party, but individual party representatives are also uniquely prone to flaking out on their responsibilities or quitting the party entirely. The latter usually happens because they don’t like the party line of avoiding Nazi salutes and Islamophobic comments in public.
So the situation is volatile, and it’s a really interesting parliamentary election. Meanwhile, me and my party friends are busy canvassing. Sunday will tell.
5 thoughts on “Five Days to the Swedish Elections”
I would choose “centre-right” instead of “right” for the bloc that is the main rival to the social democrats. It is complicated- although the conservatives are the biggest party in the bloc, they cannot dominate it in the manner of the social democrats. The cernter-right bloc has four parties and the conservatives have ca half those voters.
The other three parties in this bloc can in theory form a minority coalition since they have enough values in common.
The social democrats have more than half of the voters of the red-green bloc, their bloc has three parties and the former communists and the green party are much too different to form a minority coalition.
Therefore, the red-green bloc is quite dominated by the social democrats.
Also, on social issues it is by no way certain that the social democrats will “walk the walk”, -the refugee issue is an example where politicians of the other bloc have expressed more generous views.
On top of this complexity, we have the mercurial xenophobe populist party who may block any government if they do not get concessions -forming a majority for the next government will be *hard*.
But I should add, with the possible exception of the xenophobes, Swedish politics is free from nihilists that are willing to slash and burn to get some advantage.
No Boris Johnson, no far-left militants in any significant numbers, no batshit-crazy Republicans supported by a propaganda TV channel.
And no corporate overlord can emulate Berlusconi and displace the conventional conservative groups. The “ecosystem” is relatively stable without being stagnant. I should probably add something about the strong grassroots “folkrörelse” tradition, but I do not know enough about recent developments.
BTW, I am deeply skeptic to one-issue parties like the Greens and the (ick) SD/xenophobes. Society is just too complex.
(Even the traditional parties are stretched trying to apply ideology to the nuts and bolts of making a society work). .
I understand why some feminists want a party of their own, but how do you put a feminist perspective on road maintenance, or cellphone network coverage?
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Fingers crossed for Sunday – not my business, but I hate the thought that the SD might get 20% of the vote.
“I understand why some feminists want a party of their own, but how do you put a feminist perspective on road maintenance, or cellphone network coverage?”
Easy. All technology basically goes back to Newton and the beginning of modern science. But some feminists claim that the Principia is a rape manual. (I am not making this up. Just search the internet; this has been discussed ad nauseam.)