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How Sweden's government deal has hit the popularity of political parties

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How Sweden's government deal has hit the popularity of political parties
Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven (centre) presents his new government. Photo: Anders Wiklund / TT
16:56 CET+01:00
Sweden finally got a new government this week after 131 days of deadlock. In order to get there, several parties had to compromise, and a four-party deal was struck between former rivals. So how has the new agreement affected the popularity of the different political parties?
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Several of the political parties have seen significant changes in their membership figures after what's been called the January Deal (januariavtalet) in Sweden.

The deal paved the way for a Social Democrat-Green Party government with passive support from the Centre and Liberal Party in exchange for agreement on several policy points, such as changes to rental regulations, tax changes, and the introduction of language and civics tests for would-be citizens.

The biggest intake of new members have been reported by the Christian Democrats and Moderate Party, whose leaders described the deal as "absurd" and "an unholy alliance" after their two former allies agreed to allow a Social Democrat-led government.

READ ALSO: Who's who in Sweden's new government?

Who's who in Sweden's new government?
Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

The centre-right Alliance (made up of the Moderates, Christian Democrats, Centre Party and Liberals) broke down after both they and the centre-left bloc failed to reach a majority. The Centre and Liberals refused to support a government that relied on support from the far-right Sweden Democrats, while the other two Alliance parties were prepared to accept this support.

Christian Democrat party secretary Peter Kullgren said his party had received 1,500 new members since the deal was first announced on January 11th.

"I think it's down to the fact that we as a party, and not least our party leader [Ebba Busch-Thor], have stood firm in the government negotiations and kept to the same line before and after the election," Kullgren told the TT news agency.

The Moderate Party meanwhile reported an increase of around 1,000 new members.

The Left Party, who were not a part of the deal but reluctantly agreed to offer 'passive support', also appear to have gained.

According to their party secretary, membership figures are at their highest level since the early 1960s, with a boost of nearly 600 new members in the past two weeks.

The final party not included in the deal, the far-right Sweden Democrats, said they had received around 150 new members during the same period.

As for the parties included in the deal, neither the Green Party (who are part of the government with the Social Democrats) nor the Liberal Party shared their membership figures for 2019.

The Social Democrats reported an increase of members throughout January without giving a figure, while the Centre Party said they had received around 100 membership applications but had also seen some members cancel their membership.

READ ALSO: What does Sweden's government deal mean for internationals in Sweden?

What does Sweden's government deal mean for internationals in Sweden?
Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Opinion polls however have remained mostly stable despite the turbulence during the ongoing negotiations. 

A survey carried out by Ipsos for Dagens Nyheter showed only minor changes since before the election, but slight improvements in poll ratings for the Social Democrats and losses for the Moderate Party.

The Social Democrats were polling at 30 percent, according to the survey, a two point decrease from the previous month but still above the election result of 28.3 percent, which was its lowest share of the vote in over a century.

Meanwhile, support for the Moderates remained at 18 percent, the same level as December, while the Sweden Democrats also remained stable at 18 percent. In the election, they received around 20 and 17 percent of the vote respectively.

The Christian Democrats were down at seven percent, a slight decrease from December, while the Centre Party and Liberals saw slight increases to eight and five percent respectively, close to the support they received in the election. The Left Party remained at the same level as in December, at eight percent.

However, it is still too early to be able to predict what the long-term consequences of the January Deal and new government will be, both for the political parties and for Swedish society in general.

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Ron Pavellas - 23 Jan 2019 21:34
"... the far-right Sweden Democrats, said they had received around 150 new members during the same period." I ask, then, who are the "far left" party or parties?
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