• Sweden's news in English
 

Sweden elections: How do they work?

Maddy Savage · 5 Sep 2014, 07:46

Published: 21 Aug 2014 11:46 GMT+02:00
Updated: 05 Sep 2014 07:46 GMT+02:00

Why is Sweden holding elections now?
 
There are elections in Sweden every four years. There are 349 seats up for grabs in the national parliament (Riksdag) and registered voters will also choose the next politicians to make up 21 county councils and 290 municipal assemblies. 
 
Can I have a say?
 
You have to be a Swedish citizen aged 18 or over to vote in national elections. But if you're from the EU, Iceland or Norway and you're registered as living in Sweden, then you can have a say in municipal and county council elections. People from outside Europe who have been in Sweden for more than three years may also be allowed to vote locally. In total around seven million people are eligible to go to the polls.
 
Where do I vote?
 
If you're allowed to vote, you should get a voting card in the post, giving you the details of your nearest polling station. Don't forget to take along your ID. Some municipal buildings and libraries allow you to vote in advance. Swedes living abroad can vote by post. If you're sick, disabled or elderly, you can send someone else to vote for you.
 
How do I vote?
 
Sweden uses multi-coloured ballot papers. Yellow is for the Riksdag election, white is for municipal elections and blue is for county council elections. 
 
Once you've worked out what colour you need, you can then choose from three different types of ballot paper. One allows you to pick from a list of candidates, another simply identifies the party you want to select and the third is blank for you to write down your preference in your own words. 
 
Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
 
How are the winners chosen?
 
Like most of Europe, Sweden uses a system of proportional representation, which means the number of seats a party wins largely reflects the share of the vote it gets nationwide. The exception is that parties winning less than four percent of the vote are excluded from the Riksdag and parties securing less than three percent of the vote at county level cannot participate in local government.
 
How will we know which party has won?
 
Ballot papers start being counted by hand as soon as the polls close and each polling station passes its figures on to Sweden's Election Authority. A provisional result in the national poll is usually announced on election night, with local election figures being released later in the week. The Local will keep you updated on our Elections Blog.
 
So when do we find out who the next Prime Minister is?
 
This is where it gets complicated. 
 
If one political party wins an absolute majority of seats (more than 50 percent) then its leader will be chosen as Prime Minister. But this is rare in Sweden, where there are a large number of parties to choose from.
 
So, if no party wins an absolute majority, the group with the largest number of seats will try to form a government by building a coalition with other parties that share some of its ideals. Since 2006 there has been a centre-right Alliance in Sweden, led by Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and his Moderate Party. The current coalition also incorporates the Liberals (Folkpartiet), the Centre Party and the Christian Democrats. The Alliance has said it seeks renewed confidence to continue its work after the 2014 election.
 
The Social Democrats previously made a pact to form a coalition with the Greens. This was abandoned in 2010 but the parties haven't ruled out working together in future. The Left Party (Vänsterpartiet) is often lumped in with the red-greens in polls, but it remains unclear whether it will form part of a red-green coalition.
 
In 2014, the potential success of smaller parties such as the nationalist Sweden Democrats and the Feminist Initiative could have a key impact. If these parties do well, they could upset the balance in parliament and make it harder for traditional larger parties to form a coalition. These parties may be forced to compromise on some of their key policies or form unusual alliances. If this makes the government appear too unstable, there could even be calls for a fresh election.
 
 
For more information on how elections in Sweden work click here (PDF).

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Maddy Savage (maddy.savage@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
One dead after shooting and stabbing in Rinkeby
Police examining the murder scene in Rinkeby. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

One dead after shooting and stabbing in Rinkeby

1 hour ago

One person has been killed and three others injured in a shooting and stabbing incident in the Rinkeby suburb of Stockholm.

Swedish police: ‘Help us find kidnapped man’
Anton was abducted in a red VW Passat. Photo of car (not involved in incident): Praiselightmedia, via Wikimedia

Swedish police: ‘Help us find kidnapped man’

3 hours ago

A 27-year-old man was beaten and abducted by several people in a red VW Passat earlier this week in Gothenburg.

Sweden Democrats: 'We will run the country'
Jimmie Åkesson, the leader of the Sweden Democrats, speaking on Saturday. Photo: Rickard Nilsson/TT

Sweden Democrats: 'We will run the country'

1 day ago

In his keynote summer speech on Saturday in his hometown of Sölvesborg, Jimmie Åkesson, the leader of the far-right Sweden Democrats, predicted that his party would one day be strong enough to run the country and called for a referendum on immigration.

Plane crash-lands on Swedish road
Photo: Adam Ihse

Plane crash-lands on Swedish road

1 day ago

A light aircraft was forced to land on Highway 27 outside Borås at lunchtime. No one was harmed.

The Local investigates
Should more people live on boats in Stockholm?
House boats at Pampas Marina. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Should more people live on boats in Stockholm?

1 day ago

Living on a boat in Stockholm used to be the preserve of the rich. But as the city's housing crisis swells, could more affordable floating accommodation help provide a solution to the shortage? The Local investigates.

Julian Assange
Sweden and Ecuador set to launch Assange talks
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Photo: AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

Sweden and Ecuador set to launch Assange talks

2 days ago

Sweden is seeking to reach a deal to pave the way for prosecutors to question Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London where the Wikileaks founder has been holed up for over three years as he fights an extradition to Sweden over rape allegations.

Stockholm bin men rescue doomed kitten
'It trembled like a leaf'. Photo: Bekir Mercil/Private

Stockholm bin men rescue doomed kitten

2 days ago

Stockholm waste collector Bekir Mercil and his two colleagues were on Friday hailed heroes of the day after they saved a terrified kitten who had fallen into a garbage truck, stuck in tonnes of food waste headed for the incinerator.

Trio in court over attack on Swedish serial rapist
Umeå held a demonstration against sexual violence toward women when Lindgren was released in July. Photo: John Gunseum/TT

Trio in court over attack on Swedish serial rapist

2 days ago

UPDATED: Three men have been remanded in custody over a weekend golf club attack on one of Sweden's most notorious serial rapists who was released from prison earlier this month.

Swedes debate capital's first Airbnb rent ‘ban’
The apartment is located in Stockholm's trendy Södermalm neighbourhood. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Swedes debate capital's first Airbnb rent ‘ban’

3 days ago

UPDATED: A landmark ruling banning a woman in Stockholm from renting out her apartment via the home-sharing website Airbnb after a rent tribunal likened the letting with running a "hotel business" on the premises has sparked debate in Sweden.

Text messages to warn Swedes of terror attacks
Swedish Interior Minister Anders Ygeman. Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Text messages to warn Swedes of terror attacks

2 days ago

The Swedish government wants to step up its fight against terror with a new strategy that includes warning civilians to stay away from certain geographical areas via text message.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

National
This Swedish teen was told she was 'too big' to be a model
Lifestyle
Six reasons to stay outdoors this week
Gallery
People-watching: August 26th
Sponsored Article
Nine places where Stockholm needs more English
National
Rescued baby lemur gets new Stockholm home
Blog updates

28 August

Editor’s blog, August 28th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello readers, It was all glitz and glamour in Sweden this week as Stockholm Fashion Week got..." READ »

 

18 August

Preteritum eller presens perfekt? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hello everyone, It’s grammar time ! I got an interesting question about the past tense vs present..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Stockholm Fashion Week turns island into Mars
Sponsored Article
'It gives you the guts to believe in yourself'
Gallery
Property of the week: Stora Essingen, Stockholm
National
Swedish crayfish thieves caught red handed by officers
National
Veil soon to be lifted on new Millennium sequel novel
Gallery
People-watching: August 21st - 22nd
Cecilia Larsson Lantz/imagebank.sweden.se
Presented by Stockholm Academic Forum
International students welcomed to Stockholm
National
The Bridge: What does the third season have in store?
National
Lucky escape for Swedes after 'dead' bear launches attack
National
Syrian asylum seeker comic: 'We don't prefer Sweden any more'
National
Are anti-immigration nationalists really now Sweden's biggest party?
Lifestyle
Baby joy for Swedish crime queen and her wrestler boyfriend
National
Soldier accused of faking first Isis attack in Sweden
National
Fire alert as Sweden sizzles in summer heatwave
Gallery
People-watching: August 19th
National
Meet the Swede who is crazy for Norway’s mass killer
National
Swede's review of night in drunk tank goes viral
National
VIDEO: Swedish teen melts hearts with this incredible Idol audition
Society
What's a Swedish crayfish party?
National
UN: Sweden can't be left to shoulder migrant crisis alone
Gallery
Property of the week: Skogås, Huddinge
National
Men outstrip women for first time
Society
IN PICTURES: Wooden town resembles 'war zone' after huge fire
Gallery
People-watching: August 14th-16th
Sport
Swedish referee shuts viral Facebook page explaining his decisions
Business & Money
A studio in Stockholm or a castle in the countryside?
National
How did twelve skeletons end up beneath a Swedish castle?
Pharmacy to launch plasters for darker skin in anti racism drive
Gallery
People-watching: August 12th
National
TIMELINE: Everything you need to know about the Julian Assange case
National
Millennium sequel author labelled 'grave robber'
National
Two metre long python stops traffic in Malmö
National
IN PICTURES: Shoppers pay tribute to Ikea stabbing victims
Technology
Danish 'monster' pulled out of Swedish waters
National
Bizarre baby baptism for hockey fan
Gallery
Property of the week: Löderup, Ystad
National
Sunshine brightens up Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: August 7th-9th
National
Shocking video sheds light on Swedish 'anti-gay discrimination'
Sponsored Article
Getting pregnant the Swedish way
Sponsored Article
Outsourcing drives Apreel's Europe growth
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

3,215
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se