Keys to the elections in Sweden: a single seat separates the right from the left

The final results of the general elections in Sweden held on Sunday, September 11, will be known on Wednesday, September 14. This Monday, the votes of 6,243 of the 6,264 districts throughout the country had been counted. From Monday to Wednesday, 314 districts are counted, with the foreign vote and the vote by mail. According to its Constitution, regional and municipal elections are also held on the same day as general elections.

The political polarization that we experience in our party systems in Europe also affects Sweden. Of the 349 seats in the Swedish parliament, the so-called red-green bloc (the bloc made up of progressive parties) is currently at 174 and the Alliance bloc (conservative bloc) at 175. A single seat separates the gap between the two blocs. .

The rise of the Social Democrats by 2.3 points compared to the last elections of 2018, with 30.5% of the votes and 108 seats and being the undoubted winner of the elections in votes and seats, is insufficient to strengthen the terrain of his bloc given the irruption of the extreme right as the second most voted party. 175 seats for the government base of The Alliance and 174 seats for the government base of the social democrat Magdalena Andersson make visible a change in the orientation of the Swedish government for the next four years.

The distribution of seats in the Swedish elections is calculated using the so-called smoothed odd number method and at the moment the battle for the last seat of each party continues.

The main Swedish parties

  • The Social Democratic Party (Socialdemokraterna-S): founded in 1889, it is the oldest party in Sweden. With the latest recorded data, it manages to rise from 100 to 108 seats out of 349. For the first time, this party has presented a woman as a candidate, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, elected leader of the government after the resignation of Stefan Löfven, in power since 2012.

    In the 2018 elections, a government agreement was reached in Sweden between social democrats (S) and “greens” (MP), with the support of liberals (L) and centrists (C), isolating the extreme right in the negotiations. An agreement was reached with the Left Party (V), which had the crucial votes to give the new government a free pass, an agreement reluctantly signed for having been left out of any influence and representation in the design of the new ministerial cabinet. In those general elections, the parties of the left-wing bloc won 144 seats out of 349, compared to 143 seats for the (conservative) La Alianza bloc, leaving the nationalist right-wing SD, which won 62 seats, out of the two blocs.

The former Swedish Prime Minister, Magdalena Andersson, during a rally in Stockholm.
Shutterstock / Liv Oeian
  • The Swedish Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna-SD): Nationalist and Eurosceptic party, leaning towards the extreme right, founded in 1988. In 2010 it obtained parliamentary representation for the first time. It manages to go from 62 deputies to 73. They are not part of the conservative bloc The Alliance, not cooperating with either of the two blocs in the Riksdag.

    His strategy will be based on wanting to be decisive in the formation of the next ministerial cabinet by being in second position, although the government agreement between the conservative parties is closed around the moderates. One of its leaders resigned to found the new radical party Alternatives for Sweden in 2018.

    Relating crime to immigration used to be impossible and now it does not attract as much rejection and defends, among others, the elimination of the right to family reunification for refugees. They affect the threat to social cohesion and have abandoned anti-abortion positions from previous years.

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Jimmie Åkesson, leader of the Sweden Democrats, during a street rally in Umeå, Sweden.
Shutterstock / Sune Grabbe
  • The Moderate Party (Moderaterna-M): conservative center-right party, founded in 1904. It drops from 70 to 67 deputies and its commitment to lead the right-wing bloc places it as a strong leader against the Social Democrats as of Wednesday’s final results.

    The Moderates, the Center Party, the Liberals and the Christian Democrats cooperate on most issues within the Alliance Bloc, created to build consensus around major issues being debated within these parties. The Moderates, by leading the Alliance bloc, are the ones who will promote their commitment to govern with the only seat difference that they register in their favor over the “red-green” bloc.

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Election poster of Ulf Kristersson, leader of the Moderate Party.
Shutterstock / Tupungato
  • Center Party (Centerpartiet-C): center-right liberal and agrarian party, founded in 1913. Down from 31 to 24 deputies; little presence in Parliament when in 1976 he formed Sweden’s first non-Social Democratic government since 1936.

  • Left Party (Vänsterpartiet-V): socialist party leaning to its left, with great weight of eurosceptic postulates. It was founded in 1917 as a split from the Social Democratic Party and went from 28 deputies to 24.

  • Christian Democrats (Kristdemokraterna-KD): center-right Christian Democrat party, which was founded in 1964. It goes from 22 deputies to 19.

  • Green Party (Miljöpartiet-MP): center-left environmentalist party, was founded in 1981. It goes from 16 deputies to 18.

  • Liberal Party (Liberalerna-L): center-right liberal party, which was founded in 1934. It goes from 20 deputies to 16.

Entry into NATO

In an atypical election campaign in which the debate has not focused on traditional issues such as taxes, schools and health care, issues such as Sweden’s NATO accession and handling of the pandemic have received very little space.

Sweden, which has always been characterized as being on the “axis of non-alignment”, which made it characterize itself as a neutral country against the US and the USSR in the Cold War, joins NATO in 2022 together with Finland, leaving the list of neutral countries reduced to three, Switzerland, Austria and Ireland.

In Sweden, this turn in politics has not been surprising, and less so on the island of Gotland. Any initiative to protect itself against the growing warmongering of neighboring Russia, especially since the invasion of Ukraine, has been well received by public opinion, with a favorable view of joining NATO, according to the results published by Demoskop of a survey commissioned by the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladetwith a social democratic orientation, in April 2022.

Everything points to a government of Ulf Kristersson

For now, everything points to a government presided over by the leader of the Moderates, Ulf Kristersson, with a closed agreement with the Christian Democratic party since before the campaign, now open to negotiating with the extreme right, underlining reasons of “arithmetic force”, with the possibility of major political concessions to SD if Kristersson wishes to keep them out of government.

The new government, regardless of who assumes it, faces important challenges such as combating street violence that has increased in the suburbs of large cities, the increase in energy prices and inflation.

Without definitive results, the horizon is still open, with a right wing in the process of achieving power in the same way that it did in 1979, with the precedent also of only one seat difference in its favor.

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