Swedes are heading to vote in a new government on September 9 and it’s shaping up to be historic. Like elsewhere in Europe in recent times the prospect of a sharp turn towards populism is looming over this election.
Barring a major upset, Sweden’s far-right is on course for a record result in September 9 legislative elections, capitalising on the mood of voters who feel they are being left behind in favour of hundreds of thousands of newly-arrived asylum seekers.
The Sweden Democrats the right-wing nationalists are predicted that they could get up to 28.5% of the vote. That would make them the second- or third-biggest party. The SD SD — an offshoot of the neo-Nazi movement but now clamouring for political legitimacy — with such result, will get significant influence over Swedish politics.
If the party wins some form of power it could see a shift in its relationship with Brussels and a weakening of the European Union.
There is also the prospect of climate change issues entering the political fray for the first time in Sweden, according to experts, who say the country’s recent spate of wildfires has pushed global warming up the political agenda.
That could give SD has said it is willing to collaborate with either the left or right, as long as it can shape the country’s immigration policy.
Who is contesting?
Social Democrats: The main player in Sweden’s current centre-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. But is that all about to change?
Moderate Party: The centre-right movement — which favours job creation and lower taxation — ousted the Social Democrats in 2006 and had an eight-year spell in power.
Sweden Democrats: 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.
Green Party: The environmentalists tasted power for the first time when they got into bed with the Social Democrats four years ago to form a minority coalition government. Will it suffer as a result of its time in power or benefit from climate change becoming a more prominent issue since the country’s wildfire-splattered summer?
Other parties: There is the liberal and pro-rural Centre Party; the anti-EU and former communist movement the Left Party; the Liberals; the Christian Democrats; the Feminist Initiative; and the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement.
What do the opinion polls say? (Euronews)
Polling over the summer has put the ruling Social Democrats on as low as a 21% vote share – down 10% on its showing at Sweden’s last parliamentary election in 2014 and the party’s worst showing for more than a century.
“When we talk about about Sweden and other Scandinavian countries you associate them with social democracy,” Patrik Öhberg, an expert on Swedish politics from the University of Gothenburg.
“But it seems like this era is going to end now. We have become more a country like everyone else. It’s a bastion of social democracy now maybe going to rubble. Something big is going on here.”
The main beneficiary of the centre-left’s slump has so far been the far right Sweden Democrats, who some surveys have predicted will pick up 28.5% of the vote, more than double its performance four years ago before the peak of Europe’s refugee crisis.