Six things we know and six we don’t about Sweden’s election

Six things we know and six we don't about Sweden's election
The Swedish Parliament during a party leader debate. Photo: Foto: Melker Dahlstrand/Sveriges Riksdag
With a huge question mark still hanging in the air over Sweden's next government, and much else still uncertain, here are six things we know and six we don't about Sweden's political landscape after the election.
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What we know: 
  • Neither of the two blocs have their own majority. According to the preliminary result the centre-left Social Democrats, Green Party and Left Party have 144 seats, while the four-party centre-right Alliance bloc has 142. 
  • Prime Minister Stefan Löfven will not go easily. The current government has said it intends to remain in place until the parliament opens on September 25th. After that point, it hopes to build a government with the support of the Centre and Liberal parties.  
  • The four-parties in the Alliance still intend to form a government together. The Moderates' leader Ulf Kristersson on Monday posted a picture on Twitter of himself together with Ebba Busch Thor, leader of the Christian Democrats, the leader of the Liberal Party Jan Björklund, and Annie Lööf, the leader of the Centre Party. “Constructive discussion, with a lot of work still to do. The Alliance is going to seek a mandate together to form the next government,” he wrote.
  • The biggest parties are the biggest losers. The Social Democrats' 28.4 percent was the party's worst result ever under Sweden's current proportional representation election system, which was established in 1911. Even in 1911, the party won 28.5 percent. The Moderate Party, meanwhile, lost 3.5 percentage points compared to the 2014 election, a bigger loss even than the Green Party. 
  • The Sweden Democrats are still the third biggest party. Despite growing from 12.9 percent in 2014 to 17.6 percent this year, the anti-immigration populists failed to overtake the centre-right Moderates, as some had feared, let alone become Sweden's biggest party, as a few polls had predicted.
  • No party will get kicked out of parliament. The Green Party, Christian Democrats and the Liberal Party were all at some risk of falling below Sweden's parliamentary threshold of four percent. But a late spurt in support for the Christian Democrats took them to 6.4 percent, the Liberals stayed on the 5.5 percent they won in 2014, while the Green Party fell from 6.9 percent in 2014 to 4.3 percent.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about the Swedish election

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven on election night. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT
What we don't know: 
  • Where the approximately 200,000 remaining votes will go. Can they pull one or more seats from the left-of-centre red-green bloc over to the four Alliance parties? Each bloc would then be neck and neck with 143 seats.
  • Whether the red-green coalition will wait for a no-confidence vote. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has said he will stay in place until parliament opens, but will his government wait for a no-confidence vote confirming or disconfirming the sitting Prime Minister, or will they resign in anticipation of losing?
  • Whether the Sweden Democrats will vote through an Alliance government without concessions. The party's leader has said he will vote against any government of left or right which does not back his party's policies. The Alliance Parties have called his bluff. Are they right to do so? 
  • Whether the Alliance parties will promise policies which will let Sweden Democrats say they have an influence. “Everyone says that they won't negotiate with the Sweden Democrats, but as the leader of that party said a few weeks ago, there are different ways to negotiate,” Nicholas Aylott at Södertörn University tells The Local. “I think you might see a bit of variation within the parties. Some are implicitly prepared to send smoke signals to and receive them from the Sweden Democrats in the hope of forming a government, and some are not.” 
  • What, if any, concessions to the Sweden Democrats will the two middle parties tolerate? “We don't know how the Centre Party, and to a certain extent, the Liberals, will try to reconcile the two objectives they talked about in the election campaign: one, to change the government, and the other to under no circumstances put themselves in a position of dependency towards the Sweden Democrats,” Aylott says. Will one or both parties leave the Alliance? 
  • If one or other of the middle parties leaves the Alliance, what will they then do? Could one or other join a Social Democrat-led coalition? Or would they choose instead be outside of the government. “A passive form of cooperation, like doing a deal as the parties did in the mid-1990s, or simply tolerating a Social Democratic PM just by not voting against their budget, might be a way for the Centre Party to wriggle away from its former commitments,” Aylott argues. 
  • What the Green Party wants.  Would it join or support a centre-right government? Would it even want to join a centre-left government again, given the painful compromises and their consequences? “My own strong suspicion is that party will run a mile from any chance of having to carry the burden of office for years,” Aylott says.

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