Campaigning Alliance breaks with tradition

Sweden’s opposition Alliance broke with tradition on Sunday to continue campaigning after the polls had opened in a general election expected to be the tightest in years.

The leaders of the four parties gathered at lunchtime on Sunday on Drottninggatan in central Stockholm, where they all handed out orange gerbera flowers to passing shoppers.

Fredrik Reinfeldt, the man who hopes to succeed Göran Persson as prime minister, said he hoped for a clear result on Sunday, but said it was “taking nothing for granted,”

“We’ll only know tonight how it has gone,” he told The Local.

He defended the idea to go out campaigning on election day:

“We want to be accessible to our voters, and answer any questions that they may have. It has been claimed that up to one in ten voters actually decides how to vote on polling day.

Liberal leader Lars Leijonborg agreed, saying the distinction between activities traditionally carried out by parties on election day and normal campaigning had always been a “fine line”.

“This is just to get people to go and vote. The campaign really finished last night.”

Referring to the recent positive opinion poll for the Alliance, he said “there is only one poll that counts, and we’ll find the result of that tonight.”

“I think we have fought a very good campaign, and I think we will have good support,” said Christian Democrat leader Göran Hägglund.

“I hope the Alliance is going to win – but you never know. Every vote has to be counted, but I think we have a good chance of having a new government in Sweden tomorrow,” said Hägglund.

Centre Party leader Maud Olofsson, her bright red jacket complementing the orange of the flowers and the Alliance for Sweden t-shirts of campaign workers said that this election day felt “much more positive” than polling day in 2002.

“We’ve been working together in the Alliance for 2 years, and we’re much more united in the political issues. We have an answer to the Swedish people about how we create jobs, how we develop a modern welfare system and how we can save the environment.”

She said she had hopes that the election would be positive not just for the Alliance in general, but for the Centre Party in particular. She said she thought that the formerly agrarian party could do well in Stockholm.

“This is not the strongest place for the Centre Party, but when we were here yesterday a lot of people came up and said they were going to vote for us.”