Live Blog: election night in Sweden
The Local · 20 Sep 2010, 01:45
Published: 20 Sep 2010 01:45 GMT+02:00
James Savage, Moderate HQ, Clarion Hotel Sign, Stockholm, 2:30 a.m.
The Social Democrats may have packed up and gone home long ago, but there are still a few signs of life at the Moderate Party party.
So, what does this result mean?
One thing is certain - only one person has anything resembling a mandate to govern for the next four years: Fredrik Reinfeldt. In that sense, he, his party and the centre-right Alliance are the clear victors. Mona Sahlin has led her party to its worst result of all time, and her Red-Green grouping is well behind the Alliance.
But this is not a victory in the normal sense. They might have trounced the main opposition, but the Reinfeldt government doesn't have majority support in the Riksdag. The Red-Greens and the Sweden Democrats could still gang together force a vote of no confidence. It's what the Brits would call a 'hung parliament'
In the Swedish system, the sitting prime minister can remain in position unless parliament passes a no-confidence motion - and the Red-Greens are unlikely for the time being to gang up with the Sweden Democrats, who most of their members despise.
Ministers, Alliance party officials and many experts keep stressing the fact that Sweden is often ruled by minority governments. Indeed, Göran Persson's last government technically had minority support, but it had a 'confidence and supply' arrangement with the Green and Left parties, meaning they would support it in major votes in return for influence over policy.
But it's far from clear that an Alliance minority government can gain Green support - the party was certainly dismissive of the idea on election night. The Green and the Left were natural partners of the Social Democrats. It's far from clear that the Green leaders view themselves as natural partners of the Alliance.
That would leave the government reliant on the passive support of the Sweden Democrats, just as Carl Bildt's minority government in the early 1990s was reliant on the passive support of right-wing populists in the New Democracy party. New Democracy abstained in votes of confidence, allowing the government to survive. The government was, in that sense, dependent on New Democracy.
Fredrik Reinfeldt reiterated tonight that he would not make his government dependent on the Sweden Democrats. But if the Greens refuse to play ball he may have no choice. The only other alternative might be the nuclear option - a further election.
Sweden may have voted, but it remains to be seen how it will be ruled for the next four years.
That's all from The Local's election night coverage, but we will, of course, keep following developments, starting tomorrow morning, as Reinfeldt tries to navigate his way through some very murky waters.
James Savage, Moderate HQ, Clarion Hotel Sign, Stockholm, 1:45 a.m.
The leaders of the four Alliance parties have addressed jubilant Moderate members at their election-night party. The focus was on their victory, but the issue of the Sweden Democrats was never far away.
"The best idea in 21st century Swedish politics - the Alliance - has held together," Fredrik Reinfeldt told the cheering crowd. But Centre Party leader Maud Olofsson pointed out that "the Swedish people haven't made it easy for us."
"We now need an opposition that faces up to its responsibilities," she added. The next few days are going to see a lot of pressure brought to bear on the Greens. If the Sweden Democrats gain influence, there's no doubt where the Alliance will place the blame.
Olofsson was also eager to point out that continued Alliance rule would mean a reprieve for the tax deduction on domestic services:
"I've been speaking with some people who work in the domestic services sector tonight - and they're very happy indeed," she said.
Liberal leader Jan Björklund underlined the fact that tonight is above all a terrible night for the Social Democrats.
"There's been this idea that Sweden will also be ruled by Social Democratic governments," he said, adding that tonights result made history.
Or as Christian Democrat leader Göran Hägglund put it: "This [the Alliance] isn't just a parenthesis - this is the future."
The question now is - with the Sweden Democrats holding the balance of power, what kind of future will it be?
James Savage, Moderate HQ, Clarion Hotel Sign, Stockholm, 1:17 a.m.
We won’t have a final election result until Wednesday, when all the advance ballots have been counted, but this is how the parties’ share of seats looks on Sunday night:
Moderates: 107 seats
Centre Party: 22 seats
Liberal Party: 24 seats
Christian Democrats: 19
Social Democrats: 113
Left Party: 19 seats
Green Party: 25 seats
Sweden Democrats: 20 seats
Total Alliance: 172
Total Red Green: 157
Alliance 4 seats short of an overall majority.
Vivian Tse, Green Party Valvaka, Södra Teatern, Stockholm, 12:56 a.m.
Dr. Einar Helitz has been an environmental activist in Stockholm since 1962 and has been a Green Party representative on Stockholm city council since 2006. The retired radiologist and internist has long led efforts through local NGOs to try to stop authorities from knocking down the city centre and now focusses on public transportation alternatives.
In response to the election result, "I hoped it would be better, but it's good, from 5 percent last time to 7 percent this time," he told The Local. "It was much more in Stockholm. We worked very hard to get people interested. It's a slow process People are more interested in environmental issues now."
As to his opinion of the Sweden Democrats, he said, "I don't like them. They have very bad policies, even on environmental issues. They do not support lowering car emissions. They are not for a better environment and are only concerned about refugees from Arabic countries."
In terms of his own interests, Helitz emphasised that the city is still undergoing a lot of "destruction."
"Too many houses are being built where people don't want them," he said. "The office-hotel complex near Central Station will drown out the Town Hall. It is very important when you make a new policy to adapt the situation historically, like building low-rise housing to match the neighbourhood."
Helitz concurred that he favoured a majority government for the upcoming parliament and supported the possibility of securing Green support to achieve it.
"Perhaps it must be necessary, but it must be the right proportions," he said. "I don't like the Moderates. They have never made good plans for the city. They favour more cars, while I have always pushed for fewer cars in the city centre."
James Savage, Moderate HQ, Clarion Hotel Sign, Stockholm, 12:50 a.m.
Foreign Minister and former Prime Minister Carl Bildt has reacted in a relaxed manner to the Sweden Democrats’ election to parliament:
“We shouldn’t exaggerate this - Sweden is usually governed by minority governments,” he told The Local. He pointed out that many parliamentary votes are passed with bipartisan support.
“For us to run into problems it would require that the Social Democrats, Greens and the Left Party form an alliance with the Sweden Democrats to defeat us. The day they do that, they’ll have dug their own political grave.”
He said it was possible that the Greens would move closer to the government, despite the party’s protestations that the Red-Green partnership was still valid:
“I think that the partnership will fall apart slowly.”
He also underlined that the government would not make itself reliant on the Sweden Democrats:
“More than 90 percent of the members of the Riksdag reject the Sweden Democrats’ policies,” he said.
David Landes, Social Democrats' Valvaka, Tekniska Museet, Stockholm,12:45 a.m.
Just made one last walk through the cavernous and now mostly empty Tekniska Museet, and needless to say the atmosphere is anything but festive.
While a band was playing in one of the rooms, there was plenty of room on the dance floor.
It appears most of the Social Democrats have gone home to lick their wounds, rather than dance into the wee hours of the night.
James Savage, Moderate HQ, Clarion Hotel Sign, Stockholm, 12:30a.m.
The party is still going at the Moderates' HQ, although the numbers have thinned out a bit. A short while ago, Fredrik Reinfeldt was received with rapturous applause - not surprising, for as he pointed out, it was the party’s “best election result since the right to vote was introduced.”
As if to rub Mona Sahlin’s nose in it, Reinfeldt recalled that the party was on 15 percent of the vote against 40 to the Social Democrats just two elections ago. Tonight, it scored 30 percent, just 0.8 points behind the one-time giant of Swedish politics.
Reinfeldt sent good karma to the party’s alliance partners - thanking them warmly for making the victory possible.
But amid the celebrations, there is a shadow hanging over the Moderates tonight. Reinfeldt was clear:
“We will not cooperate with or make ourselves dependent on the Sweden Democrats,” he said.
One of the clear alternatives to the Sweden Democrats are the Greens: “We wish to initiate talks with the Green Party,” he said in the speech. But not all Moderates and commentators believe that a formal alliance is the most likely outcome. More on that in a moment.
Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Sweden Democrats' base camp, Gärdet, Stockholm, 12:35 a.m
The heavies have called time. Jimmie Åkesson wants the dance floor to himself and so it is time for me to end our blog broadcast from the Sweden Democrats' base camp in a remote part of central Stockholm.
Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Sweden Democrats' base camp, Gärdet, Stockholm, 12:22 a.m
"A little light in the darkness", is how the Feminist Initiative described the fact that they won over eight percent in Simrishamn municipality and thus several mandates in this picturesque corner of southern Sweden.
Former Left Party leader Gudrun Schyman will therefore make her comeback in politics, and the party has thus also made history as the first party with feminism as its base to claim seats in a political arena.
Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Sweden Democrats' base camp, Gärdet, Stockholm, 12:11 a.m
Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie ÅkessonDavid Landes, Social Democrats' Valvaka, Tekniska Museet, Stockholm,12:04 a.m.
Moderate Party leader and prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said he plans to reach out to the Green Party "to start talks" and he "hopes they are responsive" to his overtures to ensure that the Sweden Democrats don't have any influence in the Riksdag.
David Landes, Social Democrats' Valvaka, Tekniska Museet, Stockholm,11:54 p.m.
The party leaders from the three Red-Green parties are in the studio at SVT, and remain steadfast that “the red-green cooperation continues”.
Mona Sahlin added, “I have no plans to leave” as party leader, despite being in charge of her party’s worst election results in nearly a century.
Lars Ohly of the Left Party said he wasn’t surprised that the Sweden Democrats have come into the Riksdag after four years of a centre-right government.
He warned of “right-extremist winds” which are blowing across Sweden and other European countries, and promised that his party was prepared to meet the challenge head on.
Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Sweden Democrats' base camp, Gärdet, Stockholm, 11:47 p.m
Just overheard William Petzäll, no.13 on the SD list and the youngest of the party's parliamentary candidates, explain what the success of this evening means to him:
"A year ago I was living in a shared flat on social welfare, but now I get a 60,000 kronor salary and a flat in Stockholm..."
David Landes, Social Democrats' Valvaka, Tekniska Museet, Stockholm, 11:45 p.m.
Looking at a beaming Lars Björklund, Liberal Party leader, on the TV speaking to his supporters.
“We’ve written history tonight. The Alliance will continue to govern”, he said, reveling in the fact that the Alliance survived the financial crisis and proved that centre-right is more than a ‘parenthesis’ in Swedish politics.
He added that the way the Alliance handled the crisis was key to proving that the centre-right earned the voters' confidence.
James Savage, Moderate HQ, Clarion Hotel Sign, Stockholm, 11:41 p.m.
The Centre Party has emerged only slightly weaker compared to the last election. A relieved-looking leader Maud Olofsson said she was pleased to have proved wrong those who speculated that the Centre Party risked being kicked out of the Riksdag.
"It's important celebrate that we've got a continued Alliance government," she told supporters.
David Landes, Social Democrats' Valvaka, Tekniska Museet, Stockholm, 11:37 p.m.
Just listened to Mona Sahlin’s post-election pep talk to a raucous crowd of supporters. As Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” played in the background, the rank and file Social Democrats did their best to make Sahlin feel the love, despite the obvious disappointment.
“This was an election without winners,” Sahlin said, referencing not only her own party’s poor performance, but also the inability of the Alliance to gain a clear majority.
“We had a really bad, terrible election,” she continued.
“We didn’t regain the confidence of the voters.”
Sahlin then went on to emphasize that her party’s “fight against xenophobia” will continue, referencing the entry into parliament of the Sweden Democrats.
“We have a long fight ahead of us as a party, where we look at why we didn’t do a better job,” she said.
“We failed, we admit it, but we must go on.”
Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Sweden Democrats' base camp, Gärdet, Stockholm, 11:23 p.m
It is looking very tight and indications are that the Alliance lack 3 seats to claim an overall majority. Sweden Democrats party secretary Björn Söder gave The Local his reaction on the party's status as kingmaker.
"It is very pleasing. It means that the other parties should be ready to negotiate with us."
"We are going to see how active they are to get in touch with us, we are going to be very active in getting in touch with them," Söder said.
Söder told The Local that those who call the party racist, such as Left Party leader Lars Ohly this evening, "can stand for their own opinions".
"We are critical of the immigration policy that we have had, but we are not racist," Söder argued, adding that all are welcome to join the Sweden Democrats.
"As long as they share our values, their origin does not matter."
Vivian Tse, Green Party Valvaka, Södra Teatern, Stockholm, 11:18 p.m.
Green Party co-spokesman Peter Eriksson reiterated that his party will not work with the Alliance to form a majority government, but left the door open for possible cooperation with the Liberal and Centre Parties, calling them "natural" partners.
"It is not realistic," Eriksson told The Local after he and co-spokeswoman Maria Wetterstrand addressed the rapturous crowd at the party's election headquarters on Sunday. "We have very good politics with the Red-Green parties. There is a very big difference with the Alliance."
He added that the government's current priority is to determine a course of action in response to the election results.
"[Prime Minister] Fredrik Reinfeldt has the ball," Eriksson said in reference to the government's top priority in the next few days. "He has to state his solution to the current situation."
Earlier, after expressing elation at the party's showing that vaulted them into third place in parliament, he did not hide his disappointment at the emergence of the Sweden Democrats.
"It is difficult, but this is the voters' choice," he said. "We have done what we can, but we do not know how it will end. We have achieved something historical by becoming the third-largest party."
Added Wetterstrand to a strong round of cheers and applause, "Sweden is open to people from all around the world. She also pledged to safeguard Sweden's health care and welfare system.
James Savage, Moderate HQ, Clarion Hotel Sign, Stockholm, 11:09 p.m.
A great televisual moment as Left Party leader Lars Ohly arrives at SVT and refuses on camera to enter the make-up room until Jimmie Åkesson leaves.
James Savage, Moderate HQ, Clarion Hotel Sign, Stockholm, 10:52 p.m.
The Liberal Party looks set to return to its former position as the second largest centre-right party. Fredrik Svensson, international secretary for the Liberals, said the results so far were good for the party:
“It feels good, but what we’re really wishing for is a majority government. We’ll have to wait for the final result.”
Svensson said the party was pleased with its campaign and was hoping that leader Jan Björklund would be made deputy prime minister, a role taken by the leader of the second largest governing party.
Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Sweden Democrats' base camp, Gärdet, Stockholm, 10:43 p.m
Party leader Jimmie Åkesson arrived and the place erupted. Under heavy security Åkesson was carried into centre stage on a wave of noise and chants of his name, by a decidedly baritone choir.
He took the stage and appeared to be speechless for a while, admitting to feeling overcome by the occasion.
When he found his voice he began by concluding that Sweden has a new parliamentary party. He then proceeded to detail all the obstacles that the party has overcome during the campaign - press censorship, mainstream party blackout and so on.
Åkesson had to break from time to time as the chants drowned out his Scanian brogue.
Åkesson concluded by admitting that it is uncertain if the party would have any impact on the governance question and by arguing that the Sweden Democrats deserved to be treated as a normal party.
"My promise to the Swedish people is that we will take our responsibility."
Led by Jimmie Åkesson, the party then proceeded to sing their revolutionary song - Vi är på gång (Literally: We are on our way).
One of the lines of the song, as mentioned below is: "We are going to take our country back,". With more than 94 percent of the population voting against the Sweden Democrats, they, regardless of tonight's success, have a long way to go before they have any real say in that matter.
The second verse gives no clue as to from where, from what and/or from whom.
Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Sweden Democrats' base camp, Gärdet, Stockholm, 10:14 p.m
Vivian Tse, Green Party Valvaka, Södra Teatern, Stockholm, 10:07 p.m.
Latest parliamentary seat projections from SVT: 155 Red-Greens, 20 Sweden Democrats, 174 Alliance.
David Landes, Social Democrats' Valvaka, Tekniska Museet, Stockholm, 9:20 p.m.“An unbelievably huge disappointment,” Claes Bergström, Social Democratic spokesperson for equality issues, told me amid a rather subdued crowd at Tekniska Museet.
He cautioned of course, that not all the votes have been counted yet, but admitted that the results are not at all what the party expected.
He warned for “increased divisions” in society under four more years with the Alliance in power.
“We let them talk about their figures for too long, instead of forcing them to talk about the issues and their ideology,” Bergström said, noting that doing so toward the end of the campaign, they were rewarded in the polls.
Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Sweden Democrats' base camp, Gärdet, Stockholm, 9:58 p.m
Erik Almqvist gave his reaction to The Local to the news that the Alliance may claim their own absolute majority and thereby render the Sweden Democrats entry into parliament less important for the governance issue.
"There is a long way to go and several constituencies remain to be counted. It is our ambition to be the kingmaker and we shall have to wait and see how it pans out."
Almqvist told The Local that he was happy with current indications placing the party somewhere around 5.6 percent.
"Our goal has been to double our support in every election. We did so in 2006 and it looks like we will in 2010," he said.
David Landes, Social Democrats' Valvaka, Tekniska Museet, Stockholm, 9:55 p.m.
A quick review of developments from other of the political parties’ election-watch parties where a journalist from The Local isn’t present:
The Left Party was initially enthusiastic at seeing their support go up by 0.3 percent, but were nonetheless disappointed that the Red-Greens hadn’t achieved a majority and that the Sweden Democrats appear headed to the Riksdag.
“We’ve gone forward, which is nice, but it doesn’t matter if we can’t create a majority government,” said Left Party parliamentary candidate Dror Feiler to TT.
The Liberal Party was also excited about the exit poll results, which projected them getting more support than 2006 and continuing in government.
“If the results hold, it’s fantastic. It means that we’re a part of something historic, namely broken the dominance of the Social Democrats,” party secretary Erik Ullenhag told TT.
The Christian Democrats saw their support drop somewhat, prompting Maria Larsson, current public health minister, to consider reaching out to the Green Party.
“There is a possibility to try governing with one of the parties from the red-green side. What might happen is the Green Party, as they are closest to us, values-wise,” said Larsson.
And Centre party secretary Anders Flanking was quite happy with the results, even though the party only saw support increase by 0.2 percent to 7.1 percent, according to SVT.
“With those opinion results we had at the start of the campaign, we can now consider this a victory of hard work,” said Flanking.
James Savage, Moderate HQ, Clarion Hotel Sign, Stockholm, 9:52 p.m.
SVT are predicting that the centre-right government will gain a narrow overall majority, despite the Sweden Democrats getting into the Riksdag.
Massive cheers at Moderate HQ as the result comes in. There’s no doubt that the vast majority of people here view the idea of the Sweden Democrats holding the balance of power with absolute horror.
David Landes, Social Democrats' Valvaka, Tekniska Museet, Stockholm, 9:36 p.m.
SVT exit poll graphic provided by Paul Rapacioli, The Local's managing director
Just for the record, here are exit poll results from both polls for all the parties.
SVT’s Exit Poll:
Moderates: 29.1 percent
Centre Party: 7.1
Christian Democrats: 5.7
Social Democrats: 30.0
Left Party: 6.1
Sweden Democrats: 4.6
TV4’s Exit Poll:
Moderates: 27.2 percent
Centre Party: 7.0
Christian Democrats: 7.1
Social Democrats: 32.7
Left Party: 5.9
Sweden Democrats: 4.1
Concerning other parties of note, the Pirate Party reached 0.7 percent in both exit polls, causing many long faces at the party’s election watch party, according to TT.
And the Feminist Initiative is hopeful it will meet its goal of achieving one percent of the vote. The exit polls put them at 0.8 percent.
Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Sweden Democrats' base camp, Gärdet, Stockholm, 9:44 p.m
Sweden Democrats celebrate election result
Interestingly, the YouTube-generated tag suggestions were wrestling, girl fight, cat fight and belly dance.
James Savage, Moderate HQ, Clarion Hotel Sign, Stockholm, 9:44 p.m.
Veteran Moderate politician, Gunnar Hökmark MEP, says there is “still good reason to hope that the Sweden Democrats won’t hold the balance of power.”
Hökmark points to the results already in, which show the Red Greens already trailing the Alliance, even though the strongest Social Democrat districts traditionally complete their counts earliest. This could help bring about an Alliance majority, he reckons:
“There’s no doubt that the people want the Alliance.”
He said an Alliance government would be best for Europe:
“If this were to be the result then it would give a government characterized by engagement with Europe.
Niklas Wykman, chairman of the Moderate Youth League, said he believed there had been “a big step forward in support for the Alliance among young people.” Refusing to be drawn on how the Sweden Democrats’ apparent success could affect the government. “I’m hoping for an overall majority,” was all he would say.
Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Sweden Democrats' base camp, Gärdet, Stockholm, 9:39 p.m.
Press secretary Erik Almqvist has just confirmed that party leader Jimmie Åkesson will be arriving at around 10.15pm. The plan is for him to be escorted with down the steps and then for a cortège of the dearly beloved, sorry, party faithfull to fill in behind him.
There was no mention of whether he would be wearing a crown of any sort.
Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Sweden Democrats' base camp, Gärdet, Stockholm, 9:28 p.m.
The mood here is while upbeat, slightly apprehensive. 4.1 in the exit poll and 4.6 in the SVT poll is significantly lower than recent opinion polls have indicated. Party secretary Björn Söder referred to this a few times in various interviews, expressing optimism that the exit polls were usually on the low side for the party.
While of course a month ago the party would have been happy with the result, with just over 30 minutes to go before more preliminary results can be expected, the party's place in parliament is by no means certain, however likely it appears at the moment.
David Landes, Social Democrats' Valvaka, Tekniska Museet, Stockholm, 9:20 p.m.
My attempt to get comment from a table of Social Democrats about the disappointing poll numbers was roundly rejected. No one wanted to talk. Not sure how to interpret their unwillingness to talk.
Vivian Tse, Green Party Valvaka, Södra Teatern, Stockholm, 9:16 p.m.
Chatted with the family of possibly the youngest attendee of a valvaka tonight, Olivia Mannung, nine and a half months, with her parents Johanna and Jimmy. Jimmy has been volunteering for the Greens before the previous election.This time around, he and Olivia have been working hard in the Green Party cabins around town. Jimmy and Johanna voted at around noon today.
"It is a good result, but not for Sweden with the racist party [Sweden Democrats]," said Jimmy. "We'll have to see. It's going to be a long night."
As for the Greens' performance vaulting them into the third-largest slot in parliament, "It was more or less what I expected."
Vivian Tse, Green Party Valvaka, Södra Teatern, Stockholm, 9:07pm
Photo dump from around town:
Sweden Democratic party secretary Björn SöderSocial Democrat Thomas BodströmSocial Democratic leader Mona Sahlin
James Savage, Moderate HQ, Clarion Hotel Sign, Stockholm, 8:53 p.m.
Government ministers are downplaying the significance of the exit polls, pointing out that they only need to be out by a fraction for the Sweden Democrats to miss out on seats in parliament.
Government minister Cristina Husmark Pehrsson was at pains to stress this point to me:
“It’s not over until it’s over.”
“The most important thing for Sweden is that we have a stable majority government that doesn’t need to take account of xenophobic forces.”
Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Sweden Democrats' base camp, Gärdet, Stockholm, 8:42 p.m.
Integration minister Nyamko Sabuni's appearance on SVT's election coverage prompted a round of open contempt from several of the younger members of the Sweden Democrats in attendance.
Sabuni's claims that ”all of the problems that exist with regard to intergation and immigration are well known and we have presented policies to adress them” was met with laughter and shouts of ”yeah, right.”
A note on those attending - there is a large number of young men in their early twenties, a sparse smattering of young women in their late teens/early twenties and then a large number of elderly men. This is a reflection of the party's support out in the villages, according to several analysts.
Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Sweden Democrats' base camp, Gärdet, Stockholm, 8:30 p.m.
Sweden Democrat's party secretary, Björn Söder, has reiterated that the party would be preparted to negotiate with all parties if, as exit polls indicate, the party would claim the role of kingmaker in parliament.
"Swedish politics has been silent too long as immigration has continued unchecked, we want to change that and are prepared to talk to any of the parties in order to forward our politics," Söder told Norwegian TV2.
David Landes, Social Democrats' Valvaka, Tekniska Museet, Stockholm, 8:20 p.m.
The mood at the Tekniska Museet has dampened a bit following exit poll results which, if confirmed, mark the Social Democrats' worst electoral performance since 1914. There are plenty of worried faces standing in the buffet line, nervously sipping wine.
According to SVT, the Social Democrats are set to receive just 30 percent of the vote, a 5 percent decline compared with the “catastrophic” result from 2006.
Party secretary Ibrahim Baylan tried to downplay the results in an interview with SVT, emphasizing that the results are simply from an exit poll, and don’t necessarily mean anything.
One consolation is that the party is still, according to the SVT poll, the biggest party in the Riksdag.
James Savage, Moderate HQ, Clarion Hotel Sign, Stockholm, 8:21 p.m.
Marie Söderqvist, a right-leaning columnist for Expressen, said the big question of the evening was whether the Sweden Democrats come in. She said she didn’t know whether the parties could have done more to keep them out:
“But should they have let them in to a greater extent - to TV debates and the like? No, I don’t think so.”
Fredrik Johansson, analyst at PR and polling company United Minds, said:
“The significance of the election from a longer-term perspective, is that it could be the first election at which a centre-right government gets re-elected . In a way, this could be our equivalent of the fall of the Berlin Wall.”
James Savage, Moderate HQ, Clarion Hotel Sign, Stockholm, 8:12 p.m.
Anna-Maria Corrazza Bildt, Italian-born Moderate MEP (and wife of Sweden’s foreign minister) described the mood among Moderate campaigners as “very positive”.
“Throughout the campaign our election workers have been engaged and committed to our values.”
“We’ve shown a united Alliance - we’ve campaigned together, not only for our parties, but for the Alliance.”
“For the EU this election will make a big difference to how we’re seen abroad. The opposition parties are significantly more Eurosceptic than us.”
Vivian Tse, Green Party Valvaka, Södra Teatern, Stockholm, 8:07 p.m.
Jubilation as the Greens leap 3.8 percent ahead of their previous result, securing 9 percent of support according to exit poll results. A quiet resignation that the Alliance parties shrank in support, while the Moderates add 3 percent from 2006 at 29.1 percent. Silence greets the Sweden Democrats' result.
James Savage, Moderate HQ, Clarion Hotel Sign, Stockholm, 8:07 p.m.
The mood on the floor of the Moderates’ election night party is upbeat. There were big cheers when the party’s coalition partners - Centre and the Christian Democrats - did better than expected in the first exit poll. The party’s own showing secured more muted cheering - the Moderates still dream of replacing the Social Democrats as Sweden’s larges t party.
Victory seems to be within their reach, but the 4.1 percent result for the Sweden Democrats (4.6 percent in the SVT exit poll) could spell trouble.
Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Sweden Democrats' base camp, Gärdet, Stockholm 8:05 p.m.
A huge cheer greeted the SVT exit poll which showed that SD claimed 4.6 percent of the votes, sufficient to claim seats in parliament.
An almost bigger cheer greeted the decline of the Social Democrats.
A final ringing round of cheers and applause greeted news that despite the Alliance maintaining a large lead, they currently do not have their own overall majority.
David Landes, Social Democrats' Valvaka, Tekniska Museet, Stockholm, 8:01 p.m.
The results of a exit polls carried out by TV4 and SVT are in, and the Sweden Democrats appear headed for the Riksdag, but just by a nose, ending up with 4.1 percent according to TV4 and 4.6 percent according to SVT.
In the TV4 poll, the centre-right Alliance parties received 48.2 percent of the vote, while the Red-Green opposition closed much of the gap, ending up with 46.2 percent of the vote.
According to SVT, however, the Red-Greens only achieved 45.1 percent and and Alliance 49.1.
Vivian Tse, Green Party Valvaka, Södra Teatern, Stockholm, 8 p.m.
Polls close, punctuated by a whoop from the crowd. DN was evidently not joking about the green factor with dinner tonight when it ran the valvaka menus earlier today. As much as it sounded like a raw food diet, we've got some beets, string beats, mushrooms, broccoli, bulghur and a cold mashup.
Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Sweden Democrats' base camp, Gärdet, Stockholm, 7:51 p.m.
SD's answer to ”Luciano Pavaroti” just took the stage and by popular demand sang a rendition of ”Vi är på gång nu” (We are on our way now) - ”We walk hand in hand, woman and man, and take out country back” - you get the picture.
The song was so popular with the footsoldiers that the two tenors – aka Linus and Tomas – gave it a second rendition.
David Landes, Social Democrats' Valvaka, Tekniska Museet, Stockholm, 7:47 p.m.
That is how Thomas Bodström, former Social Democratic justice minister, summed up his feelings about 40 minutes before the polls close. He added that he felt this election campaign was “the best of the three that I’ve participated in”.
He is among many of the party faithful milling about the main exhibit hall of the Tekniska Museet, waiting for the polls to close.
Party leader Mona Sahlin is on site, surrounded by a scrum of journalists as she showers smiles on her supporters.
The mood is cautiously optimistic, with everyone falling back on the line that 'nothing is decided yet'.
Vivian Tse, Green Party Valvaka, Södra Teatern, Stockholm, 7:40 p.m.
"How grim," I hear as the other print journalists amble up the spiral staircase. They've kept it a little too green for us as we take up a crowded dark corner with a bare lightbulb and two loud and large fans running in the next room. I settle in, then realise I've brought the wrong laptop plug and summon my boyfriend to come over as quickly as he can with the proper equipment as the battery quickly drains away. Looked deserted when I came in half an hour ago, but a line is piling up outside as they await the arrival of the party leaders.
James Savage, Moderate HQ, Clarion Hotel Sign, Stockholm, 7:35 p.m.
The Moderates’ choice of location for their election night party could hardly be more symbolic. The spanking new Clarion Hotel Sign is a glossy steel and glass construction, and tonight it is packed with the smartly-dressed, uber-professional Moderate Party workers.
Out of the window of the press room we have a splendid view of the ‘LO Borg’ or ‘LO Fortress’ - a building that more than any others expresses the power of the labour movement. A grand, perhaps slightly pompous building, it has dominated the square of Norra Bantorget since the late nineteenth century with just as much authority as its occupants dominated the Swedish political scene.
The symbolism of the location is certainly not lost on the Moderates. On the pavement outside the building, the party has placed a sign with two arrows, one pointing to the LO Fortress with the words ‘the Old Workers’ Party’ and one pointing to the hotel with the words ‘the New Workers’ Party’. They’ll be hoping that the symbolism will be looking just as relevant at the end of the evening as it does now.
Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Sweden Democrats' base camp, Gärdet, Stockholm, 7:12 p.m.
”Have a pleasant evening,” was the last I heard as I decended the stairs into the bunker-like restaurant of SD's choice in a remote part of central Stockholm.
The press pleasantries lasted arpound 12 minutes before party secretary Björn Söder took the stage and proceeeded to slam the media's role in this election campaign. Handing out various more or less insulting awards, to various more or less absent friends.
”SD are accepted and appreciated like never before. They have seen through the media's reporting and the "real people" have risen to put Sweden back on course," he said.
He also adressed claims of harrassment directed at the SD during the campaign, ”while parliamentary parties lay silent”.
45 mins to go before th polls close and the mood is upbeat.
David Landes, Social Democrats' Valvaka, Tekniska Museet, Stockholm, 7:07 p.m.
Ensconced in the spacious auditorium at Tekniska Museet, which is serving as the press workroom for the evening. The party faithful are starting to stream through the doors, as are a number of journalists - and security guards.
The polls close in just under an hour, and according to the TV4 newscast showing on the big screen, roughly 7 million Swedes likely voted today. And many of them, according to TV4, only made up their mind as they entered the polling booth.
Before going too much further, we want to remind readers of a couple of important deadlines to remember:
1) 8:00pm - Polls close and the vote counting begins
2) 8:01pm - initial exit poll figures, taken from polling station surveys carried out by Sveriges Television (SVT)
3) 10:00pm - preliminary Riksdag election results released by the Swedish Election Authority, the first real estimate of the days winners and losers
James Savage, Wayne's Coffee, Kungsgatan, Stockholm, 5:55 p.m.
Tonight's the night. After an arduous election campaign that many feel has been short on ideology and disappointingly technocratic, Sweden will soon decide whether to re-elect Fredrik Reinfeldt's centre-right Alliance government for an epoch-making second term. The prize: ending the Social Democrats' role as Sweden's natural party of government.
But after months of steady leads, the government has in recent days seen the Red-Green opposition led by Mona Sahlin eat away at its lead. Some polls now put the government just three points ahead.
The other big question of the night is whether the Sweden Democrats will throw the political process into chaos. Both Reinfeldt and Sahlin have said they will not cooperate with the far-right party. This would force them to negotiate with parties from the other side of the political divide - either the Alliance would cooperate with the Greens, or one of the smaller Alliance parties might support the Social Democrats. This election, in which the blocs have cooperated so tightly, could yet be the high watermark of the bloc system.
The Local's reporters will be at the parties' election night events - David Landes will be with the Social Democrats, Vivian Tse will be with the Greens, Peter Vinthagen Simpson will be with the Sweden Democrats and I'll be with the Moderates. We'll have our fingers on the pulse of the mood in the various parties' camps, and have all the latest results as they come in. Stick with us for what promises to be a fascinating night of politics.