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Sweden elections: Who's who in politics?

Published: 05 Sep 2014 07:59 GMT+02:00
Updated: 05 Sep 2014 17:36 GMT+02:00

Moderate Party (Moderaterna)

Who: Fredrik Reinfeldt

Age: 48

Current role: Prime Minister of Sweden since 2006

Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Background: Born and bred in the Swedish capital, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has been in politics since joining the Moderate Party’s youth wing as a teenager and has a degree in Business and Economics from Stockholm University. He is a passionate supporter of the Djurgårdens IF football team and has also written a political science fiction novel. After having three children with his wife Filippa Holmberg, also an active politician in the party, the couple divorced in 2012. His ex-wife still goes by the name of Reinfeldt herself, and is something of an Instagram celebrity.

Party: Following years as the main opposition party in Sweden, the Moderates broke up decades of dominance by the Social Democrats when they came into power in 2006. They formed a centre-right coalition known as the Alliance, with the Centre Party, the Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats. When it lost its majority in 2010, the coalition stayed in power as a minority government.

The Moderates are focused on job creation and cutting taxes. The party has lost support in recent years and was pushed into third place behind the Social Democrats and the Greens in May’s European elections.

Current number of seats: 107

Read The Local's guide to the Alliance's manifesto

Social Democratic Party (Socialdemokraterna)

Who: Stefan Löfven

Age: 56

Current role: Party leader

Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Background: Stefan Löfven isn’t an elected member of parliament and has no previous experience of being a politician. Formerly the head of one of the country’s most powerful unions, IF Metall, he was persuaded to stand for leadership following record low poll ratings for the Social Democrats in 2012. He started his career as a welder after growing up with an adoptive family in Örnsköldsvik, a small industrial area in northern Sweden. Watching his hometown’s ice hockey team and going to the theatre with his wife Ulla Löfven count amongst his hobbies.

Party: The Social Democrats are the oldest and largest party in Sweden and dominated the political landscape until the 1990s. The party promotes workers' rights and built the modern Swedish welfare state, paid for by progressive taxation. It strongly promotes gender equality and takes an active stand against discrimination and racism. After a crushing defeat in 2006, the Social Democrats continued to lose votes in 2010, particularly from Sweden’s urban middle class. But the party has bounced back since Löfven took over as leader and recently came top in May’s European Elections.

Current number of seats: 112

Read The Local's guide to The Social Democrats' manifesto

Green Party (Miljöpartiet)

Who: Gustav Fridolin and Åsa Romson

Ages: 31 and 42

Current role: Joint Green party spokespeople

Photo: Janerik Henriksson/ TT

Background: Gustav Fridolin was the youngest Member of Parliament in Swedish history when he was first elected in 2002. Since then he has taken time away from politics to work as a journalist and a teacher, written three books and got married. He became joint spokesperson for the party in 2011 alongside Åsa Romson, a Stockholm-based lawyer. Romson is single and describes herself as a keen blogger and cyclist.

Party: The Greens first won seats in the Swedish parliament in 1988, becoming the country’s third largest political party by 2010. The party is focused on fighting climate change and promotes policies designed to protect the planet for future generations. The Greens came second in May’s European elections, ahead of the ruling Moderates. The party is against political careerism and actively encourages its members to take time out to try other jobs. It has never been in government but supported the minority Social Democrat government that held power from 1998 to 2006, along with the Left Party.

Current number of seats: 25

Read The Local's guide to The Green Party's manifesto

Liberal Peoples Party (Folkpartiet)

Who: Jan Björklund

Age: 52

Current role: Deputy Prime Minister

Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Background: A former major in the Swedish army, Jan Björklund first became a Member of Parliament in 2006. He was chosen as Deputy Prime Minister after his party emerged as the second largest in the government coalition following the 2010 general election. Originally from the west coast of Sweden, he now lives in Bromma in Stockholm with his wife and two sons. He says he cries easily, makes good pancakes and enjoys listening to Frank Sinatra.

Party: The Liberal Party is the fourth largest in the Swedish parliament and has been part of the centre-right alliance with the Moderates since 2006. Its core supporters are middle-class voters. The party is focused on improving education, encouraging more open immigration, joining NATO and nuclear expansion. It also promotes what it calls ‘”feminism without socialism”, aiming to secure equal opportunities by investing in work sectors dominated by women and encouraging men to share childcare responsibilities. The Liberals lost votes in May’s European elections.

Current number of seats: 24

Read The Local's guide to the Alliance's manifesto

Centre Party (Centerpartiet)

Who: Annie Lööf

Age: 31

Current role: Minister for Enterprise

Photo: Fredrik Persson/TT

Background: Annie Lööf became MP for Jönköping County in southern Sweden when she was just 23 years old. She followed her father Hans-Göran Johansson’s footsteps into politics; he is also a Centre Party politician and is the current mayor of Värnamo Municipality. Lööf was selected to become leader of the party in 2011 and is Minister for Enterprise in the current Alliance. She has a degree in law and lives in Nacka, Stockholm, with her husband.

Party: The Centre Party has rural roots, emerging from Sweden’s Farmers' League, which was set up more than one hundred years ago. Agricultural and environmental issues remain key concerns alongside allowing local communities to make their own decisions. More recently the party has tried to attract urban voters by promising help for small businesses. It is one of the smaller parties in the centre-right governing coalition.

Current number of seats: 23

Read The Local's guide to the Alliance's manifesto

Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna)

Who: Jimmie Åkesson

Age: 35

Current role: Party leader

Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Background: An early entrant into politics, Jimmie Åkesson began his career as a city councillor in his hometown, Sölvesborg in southern Sweden, after joining the party’s youth wing as a teenager. He has also worked as a web designer. Åkesson has led the party since 2005 and still lives in his home city along with his partner, baby son and three cats. He says the Godfather Trilogy is his favourite movie box set.

Party: The nationalist Sweden Democrats were founded in 1988, evolving from far-right organisations with neo-Nazi roots. In recent years the party has worked to tone down its image as a racist and extremist group although cutting immigration remains its main goal.

The Sweden Democrats currently describe themselves as neither right nor left wing and say they support a strong welfare state alongside traditional conservative values. They also promise to take a tough stand against crime and to guarantee a dignified retirement for older people.

The party got its first seats in Sweden’s parliament in the last election in 2010. It also secured its first two seats in the European Parliament in May 2014.

Current number of seats: 20

Read The Local's guide to the Sweden Democrats' manifesto

Left Party (Vänsterpartiet)

Who: Jonas Sjöstedt

Age: 49

Current role: Party leader

Photo: Anna Karin Drugge/TT

Background: Born in Gothenburg, Jonas Sjöstedt is a former metal worker who has also worked in Strasbourg and Brussels as a Member of the European Parliament and in New York where he wrote for left wing magazines and newspapers. He has been a Member of Parliament in Sweden since 2010. Sjöstedt is married to Swedish diplomat Ann Måwe who is part of the Swedish delegation to the United Nations.

Party: As its name suggests, The Left Party is the most left-wing group in the Swedish parliament. It has a long history and described itself as communist until the 1990s. The Left Party has never served in government but alongside the Greens it supported the minority Social Democrat government that held power from 1998 to 2006.The party is against the privatisation of public companies and supports higher taxes to fund Sweden’s welfare state.

Current seats: 19

Read The Local's guide to the Left Party's policies

Christian Democrats (Kristdemokraterna)

Who: Göran Hägglund

Age: 55

Current role: Minister for Health and Social Affairs

Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Background: After working for the Christian Democratic Youth organisation and as a councillor in Jönköping in southern Sweden, Göran Hägglund had a break from politics to work in insurance. He was later elected to the Swedish parliament in 2001, became party leader in 2004 and has served as Minister for Health and Social Affairs since 2006. Married with two children, he has a strong Christian faith, in contrast to many politicians in Sweden, which is one of the most atheist countries in the world.

Party: The Christian Democrats are a right wing, conservative group. They won their first seats in parliament in 1985, two decades after the party was set up. The party supports cutting taxes and reducing the number of regulations on companies. Improving elderly care and increasing child benefits are other key policies. Despite its religious background, the party has a pro-choice approach to abortion and backed the introduction of gay marriage in Sweden. It is the smallest party in the centre-right governing coalition and polls suggest it could struggle to maintain the 4 per cent vote threshold needed to secure seats in the next parliament.

Current seats: 19

Read The Local's guide to the Alliance's manifesto

Feminist Initiative (Feministiska initiativet)

Who: Gudrun Schyman

Age: 66

Current role: Party spokesperson

Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Background: After leading the Left Party for a decade, Gudrun Schyman helped form the Feminist Initiative in 2005, arguing that issues as such sexual discrimination and violence against women needed to take centre stage. She famously burned 100,000 SEK in a protest about the gender pay gap in 2010. A candid politician, she has admitted battling with alcoholism and avoiding taxes. Outside the party she has worked as a consultant and entrepreneur. She lives in Stockholm and has a son with Swedish filmmaker Lars Vestman.

Party: The Feminist Initiative argues that Sweden’s image as a tolerant, equal society isn’t a reality. It wants women and men to be entitled to the same rights, opportunities and responsibilities. The party also speaks out against racial discrimination and violence and wants to stop all military spending and arms exports by Sweden. After competing in two elections the party has yet to win a seat in the national parliament, but it had an historic victory in the European Parliamentary elections as Swedes voted in the EU’s first feminist MEP, Soraya Post.

Current number of seats: 0

Read The Local's guide to the Feminist party's manifesto

Pirate Party (Piratpartiet)

Who: Anna Troberg

Age: 40

Current role: Party leader

Photo: Janerik Henriksson

Background: Working in publishing, Anna Troberg was initially opposed to The Pirate Party’s criticism of copyright and patent laws and challenged its members on her blog. She then decided she agreed with their ideas and went on to join the group, becoming leader in 2009. Troberg also works as an author and she has translated several books including British celebrity Sharon Osbourne’s biography Extreme. She lives in Stockholm with her girlfriend and four cats and says she enjoys reading and listening to Dolly Parton in her spare time.

Party: The Pirate Party was founded in 2006 as a response to changes in communication in the Internet age. It promotes sharing online films and music that are currently copyrighted, as long as this is done without making a profit. The party argues that this kind of access will spread culture and knowledge and improve society. Personal privacy is also a core value; it is against government retention of digital data and supports the work of Wikileaks. The party has yet to win a seat in a national election and lost its two seats in the European Parliament in May 2014.

Current number of seats: 0

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Maddy Savage (maddy.savage@thelocal.com)

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