• Sweden's news in English
The Local List
The ultimate guide to Sweden's party leaders
Sweden's Prime Minister (centre) along with the country's Green Party leaders: Photo: TT

The ultimate guide to Sweden's party leaders

The Local · 11 Sep 2015, 10:25

Published: 27 Apr 2015 15:34 GMT+02:00
Updated: 11 Sep 2015 10:25 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Social Democrats (Socialdemokraterna)

Who: Stefan Löfven

Age: 57

Current role: Prime Minister of Sweden since 2014

Background: Formerly the head of one of the country's most powerful unions, IF Metall, Stefan Löfven was persuaded to stand for leadership following record-low poll ratings for the Social Democrats in 2012 and led the party to victory in the parliamentary elections two years later. He started his career as a welder after growing up with an adoptive family in Örnsköldsvik, a small industrial town in northern Sweden. Löfven hit the headlines worldwide when he called a snap election after his party's budget was blocked in parliament in late 2014. The election was cancelled after his centre-left coalition struck a deal – the December Agreement – with the centre-right Alliance parties.

Party: The Social Democrats are the oldest and largest party in Sweden and dominated the political landscape until the 1990s. The party promotes workers' rights and built the modern Swedish welfare state, paid for by progressive taxation. After a crushing defeat in 2006, the Social Democrats continued to lose votes in 2010, particularly from Sweden's urban middle class. But the party bounced back after Löfven took over as leader and returned to power in a coalition with the Green Party following the general election in September 2014. Some of the party's more controversial policies so far have been recognizing Palestine and its push for a feminist foreign policy which saw relations grow frosty between Sweden and Saudi Arabia in the first part of 2015.

Number of seats: 113

READ MORE: Is Sweden returning to 1990s social democracy?

Green Party (Miljöpartiet)

Who: Gustav Fridolin and Åsa Romson

Age: 32 and 43

Current role: Joint Green Party spokespeople and ministers in Stefan Löfven's government

Background: Gustav Fridolin was the youngest member of parliament in Swedish history when he was first elected in 2002. He serves as Education Minister in Sweden's current centre-left government and became joint spokesperson for the party in 2011 alongside Åsa Romson, a Stockholm-based lawyer. Romson lives in Hägersten in Stockholm with her partner Fredrik Karlsson and describes herself as a keen blogger and cyclist. She is currently Deputy Prime Minister with special responsibility for environmental issues.

Party: The Greens first won seats in the Swedish parliament in 1988. They had hoped to become the third largest party in the September 2014 elections, but lost out to the nationalist Sweden Democrats. The Greens did, however, enter government for the first time in 2014, after forming a coalition with the Social Democrats. The party is focused on fighting climate change and promotes policies designed to protect the planet for future generation. Some issues on which it has sparred with its coalition partners include the potential closure of Bromma airport, which it supports, and the building of a motorway bypass around Stockholm, which it is against.

Number of seats: 25

READ MORE: Greens fail to become third largest in Sweden

Moderate Party (Moderaterna)

Who: Anna Kinberg Batra

Age: 45

Current role: New party leader and head of the centre-right opposition

Background: Joining the Moderates' youth wing at the mere age of 13, Anna Kinberg Batra studied economics at the Stockholm School of Economics and worked at the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce before becoming a member of parliament in 2001. She is fluent in Dutch after having spent some time in the Netherlands in her youth, and is married to well-known Swedish comedian David Batra. Born and bred in the Swedish capital, one of the statements she's the most famous for – and probably the one she would most like to forget – is from 1998 when she said that “Stockholmers are smarter than hillbillies” in a televised interview.

Party: The first female leader of the Moderates, Anna Kinberg Batra has had a tough task taking over from her popular predecessor Fredrik Reinfeldt, who stepped down with approval ratings of well over 50 percent after Sweden's general election in 2014. There has been growing discord in the party over the controversial December Agreement, a deal struck between the ruling centre-left coalition and the Alliance opposition – the Moderates, the Centre Party, the Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats – to thwart a budget crisis in late 2014.

The Moderates are focused on job creation and cutting taxes. After eight years in power the party lost out to the Social Democrats in Sweden's general election in 2014, but it remains Sweden's largest opposition party.

Number of seats: 84

READ MORE: Four budget proposals from Sweden's opposition

Christian Democrats (Kristdemokraterna)

Who: Ebba Busch Thor

Age: 28

Current role: New party leader

Background: A graduate in Peace and Conflict Studies at Uppsala University, Ebba Busch Thor grew up in the nearby town of Gunsta and has been active in the Christian Democrats since 2006. Currently a councillor in the student city Uppsala, she was chosen to take over as party head from Göran Hägglund in April 2015. The youngest leader of a Swedish political party, Busch Thor is set to have a baby in May. She has previously said that she would go on maternity leave for “a shorter period” this summer, and that her husband Niklas Thor, a football player for IK Sirius FK, would claim the lion's share of their parental leave.

Party: The Christian Democrats have been trying to move away from their religious roots and build wider support, but the party is struggling to gain popularity. It only just reached the four-percent threshold needed to secure seats in the Swedish parliament in the last general election in September 2014, having previously held top ministerial posts as part of the centre-right Alliance. Busch Thor is widely expected to favour a more right-wing agenda than her predecessor and she has said that she plans to promote the party's traditional conservative values and to fight to increase rights for families in Sweden.

Number of seats: 16

READ MORE: Christian Democrats elect first female leader

Liberal People's Party (Folkpartiet)

Who: Jan Björklund

Age: 53

Current role: Party leader

Background: A former major in the Swedish army, Jan Björklund first became a member of parliament in 2006. Originally from the west coast of Sweden, he now lives in Bromma in Stockholm with his wife and two sons. He says he cries easily, makes good pancakes and enjoys listening to Frank Sinatra. But his party has been struggling in polls lately and it has been suggested his leadership is hanging by a thread.

Party: The Liberal Party is part of the centre-right Alliance. Its core supporters are middle-class voters. The party is focused on improving education, encouraging more open immigration, joining Nato and nuclear expansion. It also promotes what it calls “feminism without socialism”, aiming to secure equal opportunities by investing in work sectors dominated by women and encouraging men to share childcare responsibilities. The party has been plummeting in the polls and a survey in April 2015 put their approval ratings at 3.5 percent, meaning it would not make it into parliament if an election was held today.

Number of seats: 19

READ MORE: Integration drives wedge between Sweden's liberals

Centre Party (Centerpartiet)

Who: Annie Lööf

Age: 31

Current role: Party leader

Background: Annie Lööf became MP for Jönköping County in southern Sweden when she was just 23 years old and was selected to become leader of the party in 2011. She has a degree in law and lives in Nacka, Stockholm. In April 2015 she announced that she and her husband, Carl-Johan Lööf, were due to have a baby in autumn. She said she would take six months of parental leave, but added that she would still do “certain things that party leaders do during that time” such as making a Christmas speech.

Party: The Centre Party has rural roots, emerging from Sweden's Farmers' League, which was set up more than one hundred years ago. Agricultural and environmental issues remain key concerns alongside allowing local communities to make their own decisions. More recently the party has tried to attract urban voters by promising help for small businesses.

Number of seats: 22

READ MORE: Baby on the way for Centre Party leader

Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna)

Who: Jimmie Åkesson

Age: 35

Current role: Returning party leader

Background: An early entrant into politics, Jimmie Åkesson began his career as a city councillor in his home town, Sölvesborg in southern Sweden, after joining the party's youth wing as a teenager. After leading the Sweden Democrats to a record 12.9 percent of the vote in the September 2014 election, it came as a surprise to many when Åkesson revealed he was going to take time out due to chronic fatigue. Six months of sick leave later, in an interview on a Swedish-Norwegian talk show, the Sweden Democrat leader – who has also struggled with gambling problems – revealed that he was taking antidepressants and would be returning to work in successive stages from April onwards.

Party: The nationalist Sweden Democrats were founded in 1988, evolving from far-right organizations with neo-Nazi roots. In recent years the party has worked to tone down its image as a racist and extremist group, including through mass expulsions of some of its more conservative members, causing a rift between the mother party and its youth wing which wants to pursue a more radical path. However, cutting immigration remains the party's main goal.

Story continues below…

Sweden's third biggest party following the 2014 election, the Sweden Democrats are the kingmakers in parliament and were involved in sparking a government crisis shortly after September's vote after they helped block the centre-left coalition's budget proposal. Its parliamentary group leader, Mattias Karlsson, led the party during Jimmie Åkesson's sick leave and some had suggested he could take over the leadership permanently.

Number of seats: 49

READ MORE: How did Sweden Democrats go mainstream?

Left Party (Vänsterpartiet)

Who: Jonas Sjöstedt

Age: 50

Current role: Party leader

Background: Born in Gothenburg, Jonas Sjöstedt is a former metal worker who has also worked in Strasbourg and Brussels as a member of the European Parliament and in New York where he wrote for left-wing magazines and newspapers. He has been a member of the Swedish parliament since 2010. Sjöstedt is married to Swedish diplomat Ann Måwe who is part of the Swedish delegation to the United Nations.

Party: As its name suggests, the Left Party is the most left-wing group in the Swedish parliament. It has a long history and described itself as communist until the 1990s. The Left Party has never served in government but usually offers informal support to Social Democrat governments whenever they are in power. The party is against the privatization of public companies and supports higher taxes to fund Sweden's welfare state.

Number of seats: 21

READ MORE: Sweden's left backs European 'red spring'

Feminist Initiative (Feministiskt initiativ)

Who: Gudrun Schyman and Sissela Nordling Blanco

Age: 66 and 27

Current roles: Joint party leaders

Background: After leading the Left Party for a decade, Gudrun Schyman helped form the Feminist Initiative in 2005. A candid politician, she has admitted battling with alcoholism and avoiding taxes, and famously burned 100,000 kronor in a protest about the gender pay gap in 2010. She is currently leading the party on her own, after Sissela Nordling Blanco – who is also a Stockholm councillor – announced in April 2015 that she was set to take a time out due to exhaustion.

Party: The Feminist Initiative argues that Sweden's image as a tolerant, equal society is not a reality. It wants women and men to be entitled to the same rights, opportunities and responsibilities. The party also speaks out against racial discrimination and violence and wants to stop all military spending and arms exports by Sweden. It had an historic victory in the European Parliamentary elections in 2014 as Swedes voted in the EU's first feminist party MEP, Soraya Post, and narrowly missed out on winning a seat in the national parliament in September, scoring 3.1 percent of the vote.

Number of seats: 0

READ MORE: Sweden's feminists launch in Norway

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Facebook slammed for cutting Swedish breast cancer video
File photo of the landing page of the Swedish version of Facebook. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The social media giant removed a breast cancer awareness video because it deemed the images "offensive," according to the Swedish Cancer Society.

Pastor rapped for depicting rival as Nazi in church play
A different pastor. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The pastor allegedly found it funny.

In Pictures: Look inside this perfect Swedish island home
This modern Gotland home was designed and built by two Swedes. Photo: United Frog Studios/AB

Anna-Lena and Johan designed and built their home with tall beautiful windows, a smart heating system, and a separate section for their greyhounds.

Cannabis worth millions seized at Swedish port
A file photo of a Swedish police cannabis find not related to the story. Photo: Polisen

The 300kg haul was found by in a truck which drove off a ferry in Karlskrona.

Roll over Volvo: there’s a new Swedish car in town
Photo: Björn Olsson

Car developers in Gothenburg have given Volvo a new sibling.

Thaw trip: Swedish PM Löfven heads to Saudi Arabia
Margot Wallström was at the centre of the 2015 diplomatic crisis. She will not join the Prime Minister on his trip to Saudi Arabia. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

There are fences that need mending.

Here's where it could snow in central Sweden this weekend
This shot of snow in western Sweden may not be as far away as you think. Photo: Johan Eklund/TT

...and it's still only October.

Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
The new rules are unfair, say Swedish IB pupils. Photo: Berit Roald/NTB scanpix/TT

A new system for converting the grades of International Baccalaureate students in Sweden will make it almost impossible for them to get into top Swedish universities, it has been claimed.

Education doesn’t always pay in Sweden: study
Nurses are paid less than a lot of non-college graduates. Photo: Bertil Ericsson/TT

Half of Swedish graduates would earn more in their lifetime if they instead started work straight after high school, a new study shows.

What's On in Sweden
Five ways to discover something new in Sweden this weekend
Frank Zappa's symphonic works will be performed in Malmö this weekend. Photo: Anonymous/AP

From a performance of Frank Zappa's unheralded orchestral work to an intriguing combination of circus and opera, Sweden has some unique events this weekend.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Blog updates

8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »


6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »

Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden's 'a-kassa'
People-watching: October 20th
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
People-watching: October 12th
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
People-watching: October 5th
Must-watch: Incredible time-lapse video of Northern Lights in Sweden
The Local Voices
Why this Russian developer is committed to helping refugees - with tech
jobs available