Waiting for the arrival of her political hero outside Nalen, one of the first people hoping to welcome Fredrik Reinfeldt back to Moderate HQ is Ulrika Kjellander. She is holding a home-made sign saying “Congratulations Fredrik, we love you.”
“I’m here on behalf on small business owners,” she says. I own two small shops in Stockholm and Gothenburg and the result tonight will make a huge difference to me and my business, especially the promise to reduce the costs of employing people.”
“I’m going to tell him thank you; finally Fredrik finally.”
Christine Demsteader at the Moderates’ party in Stockholm, 00.40:
“Read my lips, we won the bloody election,” said Ulrika to Anna, two tipsy teenagers from the Centre Party’s youth movement. It’s turning into one big happy Alliance family here at Nalen as fellow members queue up at the door. “I don’t know what is the bigger story; the fact we won or the fact that the Social Democrats lost. Whatever, it’s a great night for Sweden.”
James Savage at the Moderates’ party in Stockholm, 00.33:
Centre Party secretary Jöran Hägglund: “It feels fantastic. We have acheived a change of government and the Centre Party has done well.”
Explaining the large number of Centre Party workers at the Moderates’ party, Hägglund says “we have worked as the Alliance and we are going to celebrate as the Alliance.”
One of the Liberal Party workers partying on the dance floor is Harriet Carssén. She says that despite the Liberals’ poor individual showing, she is jubilant that “we have brought about a change.”
“Reinfeldt is the politician who have had a feeling for what people want. As for the Liberal Party, we will be doing a thorough analysis after the election.”
Christine Demsteader at the Moderates’ party in Stockholm, 00.25:
The dancefloor hots up as the Moderate Party goes disco with the arrival of Center Party members and accompanied by a blast of Donna Summa on the CD player. The crowds are awaiting the arrival of the four Alliance parties and a curtain call for Reinfeldt.
The last non-socialist Prime Minister Carl Bildt briefly gave his impression on the country’s newly-crowned leader. “He leads by example, is a strong politician and I have faith in him as Prime Minister,” he said. “We heard that in his first speech here this evening.”
Adam Ewing at the Social Democrat party in Stockholm, 23.15:
Here at the Social Democrats’ party there mood is downcast. Some supporters have left the dance floor with tissues to their faces. A small crowd is still dancing to a cover band playing A-ha.
“Yes, it is a big disappointment,” said 34-year-old Daniel Färm of Stockholm. “We have to work hard and construct a strong opposition party. Things will go forward.”
James Savage at the Moderates’ party in Stockholm 23.15
Dagens Nyheter columnist Peter Woldarski, speaking just after Reinfeldt’s victory speech, says the election is wrapped up for the Alliance:
“Both the polls from Swedish television showed there will be a change of government, and with most of the votes now counted we can see there will be a change of government.”
“There will be a new government, it will be led by Fredrik Reinfeldt. The Swedish electorate has said no to the continuation in power of Göran Persson. I think this election was very much a referendum on Göran Persson.”
Christine Demsteader at the Moderates’ party in Stockholm, 22.55:
According to Forbes 2006 he is the 451st richest man in the world. He is also a Count, prominent Swedish businessman and member of the Moderate Party executive board. Gustaf Douglas naturally hopes for a right-wing Alliance victory but shuns those who are overly optimistic.
“It’s a cliffhanger and people should not start talking about results yet,” he says. “Regardless of what the prognosis is, it would be a classic act of stupidity to make any bold declarations right now.”
Douglas comes from the old school right rather the new Moderates. He won’t discuss results but will, like everyone you speak to here, bestow high praise on Fredrik Reinfelt, the man who many sat has transformed the party.
Only months after he became leader in 2004, people we’re talking about the “Reinfeldt effect. “The spirit of renewed optimism began two years ago and has grown,” Douglas says. “We wouldn’t be in the running tonight, we wouldn’t be where we are without him, and without this Alliance.”
Christine Demsteader at the Moderates’ party in Stockholm, 22.43:
“It’s boring!” All we can do is wait,” I overhead one Moderate party member saying. The mood shifts up a gear when the latest screened prognosis gives the Alliance sharing lead, 47.3 over the Social Democrats, Green and Left Party share of 46.9.
That rouses a cheer among the masses. Meanwhile, there’s a brief political respite as the TV4 screen shows the days’ Allsvenskan goals which gives other cause for celebration and misery for the Moderates clan of football fans.
Adam Ewing at the Social Democrat party in Stockholm, 22.05:
“The statistics show me that we are losing…It is 10 p.m. and we are not winning this election.. it looks even now, but the big cities have to be counted and those should go to the Right,” said Lars Arell, a 39-year-old Stockholmer.
“It is their turn to lead Sweden. I think it is done for tonight.”
Christine Demsteader at the Moderates’ party in Stockholm, 21.35:
All heads turn towards the two giant projector screens at Moderate HQ, showing simultaneous broadcasts of TV4 and SVT side by side. In the corner of the main hall stand four flat screen TV’s with the latest graphic updates of what could be by the end of the evening.
Studying the results is a woman dressed in a bright yellow shirt with the word “I love Stockholm” paraded on the back. She is a top to toe adverstisement for the Moderates and seems out of place among the suited crowd. She shows me her proud collection of badges, including the mandatory “I want to change the Prime Minister” alongside a mugshot of Fredrik Reinfeldt.
She is Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, a member of parliament since the last general election in 2002. “And I’m here to stay for another term,” she says and epitomizes the wave of enthusiasm and optimism here.
Indeed, it has to be said; right now the Moderates are certainly not feeling blue.
Christine Demsteader at the Moderates’ party in Stockholm, 21.10:
British Conservative Michael Trend was among the invited international guests at the Moderate Party HQ.
“We have long been a sister party of the moderates and it’s important to show our support here tonight,” he said. “Coming from a centre-right party with similar outlook on policies it would be pleasing to see the Moderates come to power in Sweden.”
“Having followed the campaign, they have presented sensible, sympathetic policies and presented them honestly to voters.”
British Conservatives under leader David Cameron have been going through a similar process of renewal as the Swedish Moderates.
Do they really call Fredrik Reinfeldt the Swedish David Cameron, I asked. “If he wins, and according to the exit polls, he will, then I am going to call David Cameron the British Fredrik Reinfeldt.”
Adam Ewing at the Social Democrat party in Stockholm, 21.05:
Despite the dark numbers that are coming in from across the country, Social Democrats gathered in Stockholm are still mixing and mingling, toasting their beers and wines. People are still waving their drinks around, passing out hugs to friends. You would never suspect a loss is in the air by the way they continue to raise their glasses of wine and beer, giving hugs to friends.
Adam Ewing at the Social Democrat party in Stockholm, 20.45:
Social Democrat party workers are downcast over the exit polls.
“We didn’t present a vision for the future – we have a nice track record…we didn’t articulate the Social Democrats’ future. We should have talked more about what we wanted to change. But it looks like it’s too late,” said Lars Arell, a 39-year-old Social Democrat from Stockholm.”
Therese Skoglund, a 29-year-old Social Democrat who has been a member since she was 15 said the result was expected:
“It isn’t good but it isn’t surprising. I don’t think we have talked enough about what the future will be. This election campaign focused too much on today. I think this cost voters. You have to have ambition. I felt something was going to happen before tonight’s vote…it looks like I was right.”
Christine Demsteader at the Moderates’ party in Stockholm, 20.20:
Sven Otto Littorin on the exit polls: “This sounds fantastic, and it’s a result of a strong campaign which we are proud of. The way things look, it could well be that the Moderates will have the best election result since 1928 which the Social Democrats will have their worse since 1928.”
“But let’s be cool about things, it’s too early to start celebrating just yet.”
Moderate Party member Anna Johansson: “We are definitely very happy although it feels strange that this could be the big day we have hoped for.”
“It was the result I was expecting in the exit poll. The drop for two of our alliance parties – Folkpartiet and the Christian Democrats – is disappointing but the Moderates have made huge strides and this clearly shows in these results.”
Adam Ewing at the Social Democrat party in Stockholm, 20.18:
A large projector tv is hung up at the end of an open hall where hundreds of Social Democrats are drinking with their heads toward the monitor.
“It isn’t over yet…I am a bit disappointed. It seems the Swedish people are willing to let go of their Social Democratic model,” says Esa Suominen, chairman of the Social Democrats’ students’ group in Finland.
Social Democrat election night party, Norra Latin Conference Centre, Stockholm 20:05
Adam Ewing reports:
There’s cheering as the TV4 exit poll figures come in, until the increased figure for the Moderates shows up.
“I think it is going to be too close. It looks like we will have to wait until Wednesday.”.says lifelon Social Democrat Madeline Bendetcedotter.
Social Democrat election night party, Norra Latin Conference Centre, Stockholm 19:58
Adam Ewing reports:
“You have to be nervous,” said Daniel Färm, a 32-year-old Social Democrat just minutes before exit poll numbers were released. “I think the polls have under estimated the Social Democrats, they did in 2002. But, of course, it is going to be very close.
Moderate Party election night party, Nalen Conference Centre, Stockholm, 19:40
James Savage reports:
There’s a mixture of nerves and optimism here as the main room at Nalen starts to fill up.
Henrik Elamson, who has been campaigning for the Moderates in Örebro, tells me he felt a surge of support as he was handing out leaflets outside polling stations. “Voters honked their horns as we showed up,” he told me.
Fellow Moderate members Birgitta and Hans Lundin said it felt “very hopeful so far,” and insisted they weren’t nervous ahead of the result.
Anna Johansson, who works in the Moderates’ parliamentary offices, said that it felt like “eventually it’s going our way.”
“I’m not even nervous, and that’s bothering me, but maybe now I’ve arrived here the tension will build.”
Moderate Party election night party, Nalen Conference Centre, Stockholm, 19:30
Christine Demsteader reports:
Fredrik Reinfeldt arrived on 7.20 on the dot, as the night’s Moderate party’s billing runs according to schedule. Lights and cameras flocked around the party leader on his approach to the building but the media were warned off asking questions and duly obeyed.
Far from a grand entrance, with journalists blocking the view of party members, only a trickle of applause echoed through the main hall until he was whisked out of sight, without a word for the press.
Moderate Party election night party, Nalen Conference Centre, Stockholm, 19:25
Christine Demsteader reports:
Moderate Party secretary general Sven Otto Littorin opened the evening with a rousing welcome. “Does it feel good?” he asked. An equally rousing “Ja” was the response from the guests spilling into Nalen, the Moderate party HQ for the evening.
He thanks everyone for their hard word during the campaign and which has resulted, he said, in “a strong alliance versus a split cartel.”
He finished by welcoming the numerous international guests to “what will be a thrilling evening.”
Thrilling indeed, according to Gunilla Carlsson….
“The feeling is excitement. The new Moderates, have fought a strong campaign with a strong leader in Fredrik Reinfeldt. We have been giving out badges with his face on and everyone was clambering for one today when I was out on the streets campaigning. I was there until 5 o’clock and I can honestly say the mood was extremely positive.”
“There is a very different feeling in the air than there was four years ago. Together with the alliance parties we feel this can be our night. There could well be a new prime minister tomorrow. I hope so.”
Social Democrat election night party, Norra Latin Conference Centre, Stockholm 19:00
Adam Ewing reports:
There’s just one hour until the polls close and that the exit polls are released. Nerves are on edge as the Social Democrats gather to mingle ahead of election results. They are the party with most to lose in tonight’s vote, after 12 years in power.
Esa Suominen, chairman of the Social Democrats’ sister party in Finland, says he is afraid. The Finish election is in March and there could be a ripple effect if the right bloc wins tonight. If it goes well for the Moderates, it could cause the right in Finland to unite like they did here, he thinks.
Dan Jensen, a Social Democrat from Denmark is also in town to show support. He echoed Suominen’s comments, saying it could bolster the right in his country.
He said it would be very exciting to see the exit polls come in, adding that he has felt a sense of anxiety in the air with Social Democrats realizing that their time might be up.
Moderate Party election night party, Nalen Conference Centre, Stockholm, 18:25
Christine Demsteader reports:
Journalists and politicians are arriving at the Moderate Party’s election night party. Moderate press secretary Mårten Wennberg says it’s going to be a close race. Nobody’s putting too much faith in yesterday’s Temo survey that gave the Alliance a 7 point lead.
About 500 people are expected to be here tonight, including 300 journalists. Sven-Otto Littorin will speak at 6.50 pm, while Fredrik Reinfeldt is expected to make an appearance at about 7.20.
Things are still fairly quiet and calm – it doesn’t yet feel like an evening of destiny, but the night is still young.