Sweden is one of the UK's closest partners in the EU, voting together on almost nine out of ten issues, as well as a fellow non-euro member of the union, and it has been following the election closely.
The Nordic country is run by a centre-left coalition which may have more in common with Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party than Theresa May's Conservatives, but it is also perhaps the EU country most keen on striking a mutually beneficial Brexit deal with the UK, to ensure stability and a good future relationship.
“After a dramatic election night we find that neither the Conservative Party nor Labour get their own majority in Britain's parliamentary elections. Negotiations will now take place between the parties. We look forward to a new government being installed,” foreign minister Margot Wallström wrote in a comment to the TT news agency after the results of the UK general election were announced on Friday morning.
“It remains to be seen how the election results will affect the Brexit negotiations. It is important that the exit happens in as orderly a fashion as possible. Britain is an important partner for Sweden and we want a close relationship with Britain even after the country leaves the EU,” she added.
Her predecessor, former centre-right foreign minister and prime minister Carl Bildt did not mince his words. Before the final results were in, he tweeted: “Could be messy for the United Kingdom in the years ahead. One mess risks following another. Price to be paid for lack of true leadership.”
Could be messy for the United Kingdom in the years ahead. One mess risks following another. Price to be paid for lack of true leadership.
— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) June 8, 2017
Finance minister Magdalena Andersson, who has stressed the need for Brexit negotiations to get under way as soon as possible, told Swedish radio on Friday morning that she believed they would now be prolonged.
Andreas Hatzigeorgiou, chief economist at the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, told The Local the election results represented the “worst case scenario”.
“It means more uncertainty in the short term. This is nothing Sweden needs in this situation. We are dependent on smooth negotiations, and clear negotiation positions, about Britain's divorce from the EU,” he added to SvD.
May later said in a statement that she would form a government, after striking a deal with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionists, to “guide the country through the crucial Brexit talks that begin in just 10 days and deliver on the will of the British people by taking the United Kingdom out of the European Union”.
The Local took to the streets of Stockholm on Friday to quiz Swedes on their reaction to the election.
“It was so fast between announcing the election and the election itself. There was not much time to get involved with the topic,” said 29-year-old musician Jack Elz.
“I was still surprised, I did go to bed and (Theresa May) was leading and I woke up and she lost.”
But Fritjof Hofmann, 30, a medicine student, said it did not feel like “big news”.
“Since the last election was so big and the Brexit was such a big thing, I didn't pay so much attention to this election,” he told The Local. “When you look at the news nowadays you get the feeling the world is ending, so this election is not really big news.”
Fritjof Hofmann and Jack Elz. Photo: Nicole Zerrer/The Local
Rose, 40, an architect who did not want to give her surname, said she was surprised.
“It was a big surprise. I would wish that they reconsider the Brexit. But this is not really an option. The changes that are coming now will cause tumult,” she said.
Irma Wallenburg, 72, on the other hand, said she could not help but feel sorry for May.
“It was sad for the woman because she just wanted to be sure, but it also shows that England (sic) finally know what they want. In that way Theresa May maybe did a good thing for the country but not for herself.”
Irma Wallenburg at the Medborgarplatsen square in Stockholm. Photo: Nicole Zerrer/The Local
Record number of Britons have applied for Swedish citizenship since last year's Brexit vote. In 2016 a total of 1521 Brits applied for citizenship, more than three times the numer of 2015, and it looks like the record will be beaten once more this year, with 959 applications submitted in 2017 up until June 6th.
Article by Emma Löfgren and Nicole Zerrer