Budget crisis

Ten million ballot papers on standby in Sweden

Ten million ballot papers on standby in Sweden
Ballot papers stacked up in Malmö in September 2014. Photo: TT
Sweden’s election authority says it has already ordered millions of new ballot papers as the country faces the prospect of a new election. A future vote could spring some surprises, according to polling firm Novus.

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven is widely expected to resign if, as is expected, his budget fails to gain the support of a majority in parliament later on Wednesday.

The extent of the budget crisis may have caught many people off guard, but the country’s election authority has already stocked up on enough election ballots to cope with demand.

“We always have to have ten million in stock and we only had four, so we did this a few weeks ago to replenish our stocks,” spokesman Hans Lejsäter told news agency TT.

A new vote in the spring would also make a further dent in the country’s coffers.  The election authority said the September general election had cost the country around 250 million kronor ($33 million).

“An extra election would be a bit cheaper,” said Lejsäter, noting that there would not be separate regional and municipal elections next time around.

“There would be fewer ballots and fewer envelopes, but otherwise there aren’t really any major differences,” he said.

But would new elections pave the way for the formation of a viable government?

Torbjörn Sjöström, the head of Novus, believes a new election would lead to “very big changes” in the make-up of the Swedish parliament.  

A study of polls released by Novus at the weekend showed only marginal changes in voter preferences since the September election.

“But should there be an extra election it would be a completely different sort of live situation,” said Sjöström, who speculated that voters could punish the Social Democrats for failing to put forward a budget that was acceptable to the opposition.

“In the 2014 election, protest set the tone. The Social Democrats and Greens also got votes because of protest," he added.

“Something was broken and they were going to fix it. But if they can’t show they can fix it and instead it got much worse then protest voters might think they’re better off with an Alliance government.”

Sjöström said the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, the party with the strongest protest profile, had most to gain from a new election.

“They have a big idea of the problems and a clear solution… A county in chaos that doesn’t have any future beyond further chaos and radical solutions – that’s the best scenario for the Sweden Democrats.”  

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