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Swedish voters flock to fringe parties: report

The Left Party and the Sweden Democrats are the only parties in Sweden's parliament that are attracting new members, while the more centrist parties all face dwindling membership numbers, a new report shows.

Swedish voters flock to fringe parties: report

The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats recorded the steepest upswing, increasing its membership compared to 2011 by 48 percent. As 2012 drew to a close, the party had about 7,900 members.

The Left Party, which attempted to help wrest power from the centre-right government in the 2010 elections by cooperating with the Greens and the Social Democrats, have seen a 9-percent increase in its membership numbers.

“The numbers paint a clear picture, people are heading away from the centre to the outer-lying fringe parties,” Gothenburg University political scientist Mikael Persson told the TT news agency.

The Green Party, meanwhile, has taken the biggest beating in membership numbers, losing 9 percent of its members.

“It’s quite common to lose members in between elections and then see the numbers go up in an election year,” the Greens’ party secretary Anders Wallner told the TT news agency.

The two main parties, the Social Democrats and the ruling Moderates, lost 5 and 4 percent of their members respectively.

“There’s a good mood in the party and we’re recruiting a lot of new members, many of whom are young,” said Carin Jämtin, party secretary of the Social Democrats, a party with a notoriously high average age for its members.

“That we despite this are losing members mean we have to work even harder,” she told TT.

Among the remaining parties, the Christian Democrats saw numbers go down by 3 percent and the Centre Party by 5 percent, while the Liberals (Folkpartiet) have yet to publish their membership figures.

Overall, Swedes are less likely today to be members of a political party than in the past. Fifty years ago, about 20 percent of eligible voters were members of a party. In 2010, that number had sunk to 3.7 percent.

In the 1990s alone, the parties lost about a third of their members.

While some observers fear a lack of political engagement is a symptom of a disengaged populace, it is an analysis not shared by political scientist Mikael Persson.

“There is no evidence that the young are less engaged today than previous generations were,” he told TT.

“But their involvement takes different expressions and they deselect the parties.”

TT/The Local/at

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2022 SWEDISH ELECTION

Sweden’s right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The four parties backing Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson as prime minister on Sunday announced that they had agreed to keep the current Speaker, Andreas Norlén in place, when the role is put to a vote as parliament opens on Monday.

Sweden's right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The parties won a three-seat majority over the bloc led by the incumbent Social Democrats in Sweden’s general election on September 11th, and are currently in the middle of negotiating how they will form Sweden’s next government. 

Sweden’s parliament meets at 11am for the official installation of the 349 MPs for this mandate period. The votes for the Speaker and three Deputy Speakers are the first item on the agenda, after which the parties each select their parliamentary leaders and then vote on who should chair each of the parliamentary committees. 

READ ALSO: What happens next as parliament reopens? 

In a joint press release announcing the decision, the parties also agreed that the Sweden Democrats would be given eight of the 16 chairmanships the bloc will have of parliamentary committees in the next parliament, and that MPs for all four parties would back Julia Kronlid, the Sweden Democrats’ Second Deputy Leader, as the second deputy Speaker, serving under Norlén. 

In the press release, the parties said that Norlén had over the last four years shown that he has “the necessary personal qualities and qualifications which the role requires”. 

The decision to retain Norlén, who presided over the 134 days of talks and parliamentary votes that led to the January Agreement in 2019, was praised by Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson. 

Norlén, she said in a statement, had “managed his responsibilities well over the past four years and been a good representative of Sweden’s Riksdag.” 

The decision to appoint Kronlid was opposed by both the Left Party and the Green Party, who said that she supported tightening abortion legislation, and did not believe in evolution.

The Green Party’s joint leader Märta Stenevi said that her party “did not have confidence in Julia Kronlid”, pointing to an interview she gave in 2014 when she said she did not believe that humans were descended from apes.

The party has proposed its finance spokesperson Janine Alm Ericson as a rival candidate. 

The Left Party said it was planning to vote for the Centre Party’s candidate for the post second deputy Speaker in the hope of blocking Kronlid as a candidate.

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