Government poll lead reversed overnight

Two polls published over the weekend have offered very different pictures of Swedish voting intentions.

According to Saturday’s poll by Skop, Prime Minister Göran Persson and his parliamentary allies have pulled ahead of the conservative opposition for the first time in months.

But any comfort they would have taken from that was dashed on Sunday by a larger poll by Sifo suggesting the precise opposite.

Nine months ahead of the election, Sifo’s poll, published in Svenska Dagbladet, credited the opposition parties with a combined 56.4 percent of voter support, against 43.6 percent for the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left Party.

The Skop poll had indicated that Persson’s alliance enjoyed 49 percent of voter support, against 46.8 for the opposition.

The massive difference between the two results can be explained by the ‘tsunami effect’: the first poll, favouring the Social Democrats, was conducted both before and after the damning report into the government’s reaction to last year’s tsunami catastrophe was published.

For the latter poll, however, all interviews were carried out after the report, which revealed serious organisational failings at every level from ministers down to junior civil servants.

“There was an awful lot of criticism and negative publicity,” said Sören Holmberg, professor of political science at Gothenburg University.

“It’s normal for this to be reflected in the polls.”

With Sweden’s general election scheduled for September 17th, Holmberg also told Svenska Dagbladet that it was far too soon to write off the Social Democrats.

“If the Social Democrats make a similar leap forward next year as they did in 1998 and 2002, then the target is still within reach. So nothing is certain,” he said.

The Sifo poll was conducted among 1,889 people between December 5th and 15th.

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