Sweden’s Liberal Party catches up with Centre in new poll

Sweden's two small centrist parties are now nearly neck and neck, according to a new poll, with the Liberal Party catching up with the Centre Party.

Sweden's Liberal Party catches up with Centre in new poll
Liberal Party leader Johan Pehrson holds a press conference on energy policy. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

According to a poll carried out by Novus for state broadcaster SVT, support for the Liberal Party has leapt by 1.5 percent to 5.0 percent, putting it safely over the four percent threshold for entering parliament, and within a whisker of the Centre Party’s 5.4 percent. 

The party’s new leader, Johan Pehrson, played down the impact of his own leadership. 

“I hope and believe that this is because many people like the political issues we’ve been pushing for a long time,” he said. “It could be because of a good energy politics, not least nuclear, the Nato issue, the schools issue, and that people are tired of the way many other parties claim to be smart on the basis of hindsight.” 

Three months ago, under Perhson’s predecessor Nyamko Sabuni, the Liberals were languishing far below the four percent threshold and looked set to be ejected from parliament after the election. 

Torbjörn Sjöström, Novus’s chief executive, said that there was no political issue in which the Centre Party dominates today, with only eight percent of voters ranking them best for business, and the Moderates having greater support on the environment and climate. 

Elin Larsson, the former vice chair of the Centre Party’s student organisation, said that the Centre Party had been struggling to position themselves since backing a new Social Democrat government in January 2019. 

“I think It’s been hard to find a position in this parliamentary term, and show voters what a vote for the Centre Party means,” she said. “There’s been a focus on what other parties do and think, rather than on their own policies.” 

She said that while Centre appeared stuck fast to the issue of how to handle the Sweden Democrats, other parties had moved on to other issues, giving them a new momentum. 

 “That’s why Magdalena Andersson seems like a breath of fresh air and  even Johan Pehrson’s arrival has changed the position for the Centre Party. Annie Lööf suddenly looks a little dated.”

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Centre Party ‘ready to join Social Democrat-led government’

Sweden's Centre Party would consider minister roles in a Social Democrat-led government, the party's leader, Annie Lööf, said on Monday, firmly positioning her party in the left bloc.

Centre Party 'ready to join Social Democrat-led government'

In an interview with newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN), Lööf said that Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson was her clear choice as prime ministerial candidate in the election. 

“I believe Magdalena Andersson has the leadership needed,” she said, citing the current prime minister’s “noticeably better openness for cooperation,” than her rival, Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson. 

Lööf underlined the fact that her support was conditional on “policy anchored in the centre”, and that her party would not support a government that included the Left Party, and would not engage in “organised budget cooperation” with the Left Party. 

When DN asked if this also meant the Centre would be open to governmental positions, Lööf said that the party “would like to be in government with the Social Democrats,” but that this was “presuming policy leans towards the centre”.

Lööf’s decision to set out her position was welcomed by Andersson, who said that “Sweden and Swedish politics needs fewer locked positions and not more”. 

But it was met with criticism from both inside her party, from the opposition, and from the Left Party. 

“We are putting ourselves forward in this election as an independent liberal party and should support which alternative can carry out the most Centre Party politics,” the party’s youth wing wrote on Twitter. “A centre-right liberal party should always hold the door open for several government alternatives.” 

Nooshi Dadgostar, leader of the Left Party, said the decision was “strange”. 

“She seems to be asking for our support to sit in a government without being willing to cooperate with us,” she said. “In that way, it’s strange. the Social Democrats and the Centre Party do not have a majority on their own.” 

In the interview, Lööf was highly critical of the direction the Moderate Party, with whom the Centre Party ruled for eight years, had taken. 


“Unfortunately, we see that the Moderates, Christian Democrats and the Liberal Party have all drifted to the right and deepened their cooperation with the Sweden Democrats,” she said. “This is extremely unfortunate. It is the first time since the arrival of democracy that the right-wing parties are working together with a xenophobic party and standing for election together.” 

However, even though she said Kristersson would have to cut his party’s ties to the Sweden Democrat for her to support him as a prime ministerial candidate, she said she did not rule out working together with her previous allies on the other side of the political divide.

“We are open to continued collaboration over bloc boundaries,” she said. “But that’s conditional on the future prime minister being receptive to where the political majority is located.”