Introducing the Social Democrats

Peter Vinthagen Simpson
Peter Vinthagen Simpson - [email protected]
Introducing the Social Democrats

The Social Democrats are the largest party within the centre-left Red-Green coalition that is fighting to wrestle back power after four years in opposition.


Mona Sahlin is the party leader and is bidding to become Sweden's first female prime minister. Other noteable figures within the party include economic policy spokesperson Thomas Östros, former justice minister Thomas Bodström, party secretary Ibrahim Baylan, and Stockholm politician Carin Jämtin.

History and ideology

The Social Democrats were founded in 1889 and are thus the eldest party in Swedish politics.

The party is the most successful in Swedish political history, dominating post-war government and credited with being responsible for the massive expansion of Sweden's welfare state.

The Social Democrats, then led by Göran Persson, succumbed to a crushing defeat in the 2006 elections, receiving 34.99 percent of the votes, its lowest showing since universal suffrage.

Mona Sahlin replaced Persson in 2007 to become the first female party leader. Sahlin was something of a compromise choice after several leading figures ruled themselves out of the race and has struggled to unite factions of the party.

She was roundly criticised by Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO) for launching a two party coalition with the Green Party, and excluding the Left Party, in October 2008. The Left Party later joined what became the Red-Green coalition.

The party ideology is based on a social corporatist economic model and strongly support feminism and advocates equality, taking an active stand against discrimination and racism.

2010 election platform

The Social Democrats are campaigning on a theme of Sweden as a ”country of possibilities” under the slogan - ”We can't wait”.

The party's platform has the development of the welfare state at its heart, promising measures to adress inequality in society and boost job creation and thus tax revenue.

Key points

*Cut the cost of unemployment insurance schemes (Arbetslöshetsförsäkring) to a flat 80 kronor ($11)/month for all and increase the number of jobseeker days

*Spend 12 billion kronor more than the government on the municipal sector over the coming years to retain staff in daycare, schools and healthcare

*Raise the ceiling for the temporary allowance for the care of sick children and encourage councils to offer daycare outside of regular working hours

*Tear up the FRA surveillance law passed in June 18th 2008

*Hike property taxes for those living in homes worth more that six million kronor and raise capital gains taxes on homes from 22 to 23 percent

*Kilometre tax on road transport from 2013 to be invested in infrastructure development

*Cut taxes on pensions to the same level as for wage earners


The Social Democrats' priorities are made clear in their election declaration – ”Welfare must go before major tax cuts”. The party going to the polls on a programme of investment in public services, with the only major tax cuts directed at pensioners.

The party is battling record low poll figures with the party regularly showing support of below 30 percent, and in second place behind the Moderates.

Mona Sahlin's leadership of the party is under scrutiny and there is widespread speculation that she would not survive a second successive election loss for the party.

To return to the election guide main page, click here.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also