Swedish Elections Brief

by Alice Svedberg
What has happened and who will govern?

Today, 21 September, saw the continuation of Swedish political confusion as the right-wing alliance presented their candidate for Speaker of the Riksdag:

Andreas Norlén of the Moderates (M). Concurrently, the Social Democrats (SD), largest party of the left bloc, nominated their own candidate, Åsa Lindestam.

What has happened?

These nominations follow the inconclusive results of the Swedish elections on 9 September. Whilst many parties rejoiced over victories, it seems the winner will take nothing, not all. The populist Swedish Democrats (SD) celebrated a gain of 4.7% but against predictions failed to overtake the conservative opposition, the Moderates, as the second largest party. After a string of scandals relating to flight expenses, the Greens (MP) narrowly avoided being jetted out of parliament, scraping the 4% required to stay. The Social Democrats (S) continue their 101-year streak as the largest party in Sweden after gaining 28.3% of votes, despite frustration over having made their ‘worst election ever’. 

The political situation is, as has been anticipated, very complex. No one political block has gained enough seats to form a majority. The populist Swedish Democrats could be kingmakers, earning 17.5% of votes, but the political cordon sanitaire, keeping them out of alliances, has so far made them little more than a parliamentary joker. The December Deal of 2014 was struck between all parliamentary parties apart from the Sweden Democrats. It sought to exclude SD clout by forming a leftist minority government backed by their right-wing opposition. Yet, it was ultimately abandoned after only nine months. Whilst this deal could in theory be repeated, the considerably greater political uncertainty after the 9 September election renders it unlikely. This especially following the nominations of today, which seem to mirror a reluctance for inter-bloc cooperation.

As it stands, the left-wing alliance has a one-seat advantage over the right-wing block, but this means nothing if they cannot convince other parties to support their minority coalition government. Both blocks have expressed their intention and desire to try to form government, but so far negotiations are at a standstill. The Social Democrats have rejected the possibility to support a right-wing coalition after being formally invited to support their opposition last week. The Centrist (C) and Liberal (L) parties could jump ship if given sufficiently impressive posts in a new government, but such a coalition could never set sail if it included far-left Vänsterpartiet (V), whose seats it might require.

Who will govern?

Monday will be a crucial day for future Swedish political stability. Parliament opens and the Speaker of the Riksdag, formally superior to the Prime Minister, is to be elected. The Speaker will then nominate a candidate for Prime Minister to parliament. At the moment it seems either alliance could succeed in gaining executive office. Whatever government is eventually announced will have many obstacles ahead. The first big challenge will be passing a budget through parliament on 15 November.

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