Sweden’s general election: What on earth is going on?

Sweden’s general election: What on earth is going on?
Photo: Hans_Chr/Depositphotos
Sweden’s general election, which took place last Sunday, has left the country in an uncertain political situation (and even the most politically clued-up still aren’t quite what’s going on). It might be downright confusing, but SI News is here to clear it up for those of you who are new to Swedish politics.

On Thursday September 13th, the centre-left coalition formed by the centre-left Social Democrats, Green Party and Left Party became ever-so-slightly Sweden’s largest bloc. By coming together and forming an alliance, they have won the majority of votes. The final result, however, has been delayed and won’t be released until Sunday due to high turnout and early voting, which Sweden allows. All votes must be recounted, as is standard procedure in Swedish elections.

On Sunday, the results of the election will be made official. However, it might take a while before a new Prime Minister is elected. The Parliament will reconvene on September 25th to vote on whether incumbent Prime Minister Stefan Löfven will be given another term or not. If more than half of the Members of Parliament vote no, Löfven will have to resign. It is then up to the speaker of parliament – traditionally a member of the largest party – to propose a new government.

Current Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. Photo: palinchak/ Depositphotos

Only then will a Prime Minister be appointed, considering Sweden has a system of negative parliamentarism, which means that a new prime minister does not need the active support of a majority, but they do need a majority to not vote against them.

But here is how the initial results are looking so far.

Just one seat separates the two main blocs — a close call by anyone’s standards. The red-green coalition (which includes the centre-left Social Democrats, Green Party and Left Party) has 144 seats in total, while the centre-right Alliance (made up of the Moderate Party, Centre Party, Christian Democrats and Liberal Party) has 143. The far-right Sweden Democrats, which is led by politician Jimmie Åkesson, won 17 percent of the vote and rose the ranks to become Sweden’s third-largest party.

Even though the initial count is over, with the results being delayed, there is still a huge question mark still hanging in the air over Sweden's next government.

Jimmie Åkesson from the Swedish Democrats. Photo: Per Pettersson/ Flickr

The Local’s CEO, James Savage believes this political fragmentation in the Swedish society is due to a sense of dissatisfaction. A dissatisfaction with societal change, immigration and elitism, to name a few. However, he emphasises that “it is easy to over-dramatise. It is worth reminding ourselves that more than 80 percent people voted against the far-right values”.

The Local’s co-founder Paul Rapacioli, in an article about Swedish values surviving the elections, points out that “despite widespread international reporting that implied that this election was all about immigration, Swedes are actually more concerned about healthcare, education, equality, law and order, care for the elderly and the Swedish economy.”

Forming a government in Sweden will be no easy task, and eventually someone is going to have to make concessions. Sweden, a country that prides itself on progressive values such as equality and tolerance, has its reputation at stake.

“This is a country of problem-solvers where the consensus still reigns”, says Paul Rapacioli.

The rest of the world is watching, so now is the time to prove it.

To be continued…

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