For members


Sweden Elects: Money scandal, the poll of polls and dancing politicians

What's Sweden talking about this week? In The Local's Sweden Elects newsletter, editor Emma Löfgren rounds up some of the main talking points ahead of the Swedish election.

Sweden Elects: Money scandal, the poll of polls and dancing politicians
The Swedish election is heating up. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

It’s been an eventful week, and it’s clear that the election is drawing closer.

If you’ve been in Sweden long enough, you may remember when public broadcaster SVT just four days before the 2002 election visited campaign tents with a hidden camera and caught in particular representatives of the Moderates saying extremely racist things. The conservative party as a result plummeted in the polls and had their worst election in decades.

Similar political dynamite was produced by investigative reporters at broadcaster TV4’s show Kalla Fakta last week, who, with the help of businessmen, called each of Sweden’s eight parties, pretending to want to circumvent funding rules to donate half a million kronor anonymously.

Swedish law states that anonymous donations to political parties are only allowed if the donation does not exceed 24,150 kronor (€2,281), but only three parties (Left, Green and Centre) told Kalla Fakta’s undercover team that it wasn’t possible for them to remain anonymous. The rest of them (Social Democrats, Liberals, Moderates, Christian Democrats, Sweden Democrats) suggested different ways of getting around the requirements.

The parties are now in damage control mode. The Social Democrats have already removed their head of finance from her post, the Liberals also let their representative go after initially trying to deny what had happened.

It’s too early to say whether this scandal – and it’s seen as a massive scandal – will affect the outcome of the election, but it’s certainly sparked debate in a country that usually ranks well in anti-corruption surveys.

Centre Party picks favourite PM candidate

Whoever wins the election will have a big job ahead of them trying to cobble together a viable coalition government. The Centre Party’s Annie Lööf has now firmly, and unsurprisingly, aligned herself with the centre-left bloc, telling the Dagens Nyheter newspaper she would consider ministerial roles for the party in a Social Democrat-led government.

The Centre Party and the Liberals are Sweden’s two small, centrist-liberal parties, but they parted ways this year with the former supporting the left bloc and the latter joining the Moderates, Christian Democrats and anti-immigration Sweden Democrats on the right. Both moves are tactically risky, as the left wing’s state-controlled welfare system is anathema to the Centre Party’s free market voters, and the Liberals risk losing voters who can’t bear their new friendliness with the Sweden Democrats.

It was therefore clever of Lööf to link her support for the Social Democrats not to the party itself, but to Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, whose popularity vastly overshadows that of opposition leader Ulf Kristersson.

“I believe Magdalena Andersson has the leadership needed,” she said.

The Centre Party still, however, balks at the notion of taking part in any organised negotiations with the Left Party, whose support Andersson is also likely to need if she were to form a government after the election.

I wouldn’t be altogether surprised if Sweden ends up with a Social Democrat minority government again, with Andersson acting as the go-between; the Left Party talks to her, she talks to the Centre Party, and neither of those two parties actually have to talk to each other. But don’t quote me on that, because this election race could still go anywhere!

Who’s in the lead?

Where are we at in the polls? According to “the poll of polls” by election researchers at Gothenburg University, based on the latest surveys by five of Sweden’s main pollsters, the left bloc is currently polling at 49.4 percent and the right bloc at 48.8 percent (with the Green Party on the left and the Liberals on the right both polling above the parliamentary threshold).

Also in the world of Swedish politics, Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson spoke to The Local about his preferred work permit rules (a departure from the party’s current stance), public broadcaster SVT revealed how much the parties are spending on their election campaigns, Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson (who was voted the winner of Aftonbladet’s party leader debate last week) told DN he wants to give the Sweden Democrats “serious influence” in post-election negotiations, and the Green Party wants all public buildings to install solar panels in order to bring energy prices down.

Last week was also the week when the rhetoric on immigration was taken to a new level. My colleagues at The Local spoke about the parties’ immigration and integration plans in the latest episode of our Sweden in Focus podcast – I recommend giving it a listen, it’s a great episode.

Finally, for anyone who’s been following Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s “party gate” this week, I give you this video of Sweden’s former Moderate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt singing his country’s Eurovision contender of 1987, and this video of former Social Democrat Prime Minister Göran Persson dancing with a cow.

Enjoy, and never say Swedish politicians don’t know how to have fun.

Sweden Elects is a weekly column by Editor Emma Löfgren looking at the big talking points and issues in the Swedish election race. Members of The Local Sweden can sign up to receive the column plus several extra features as a newsletter in their email inbox each week. Just click on this “newsletters” option or visit the menu bar.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Sweden’s right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The four parties backing Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson as prime minister on Sunday announced that they had agreed to keep the current Speaker, Andreas Norlén in place, when the role is put to a vote as parliament opens on Monday.

Sweden's right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The parties won a three-seat majority over the bloc led by the incumbent Social Democrats in Sweden’s general election on September 11th, and are currently in the middle of negotiating how they will form Sweden’s next government. 

Sweden’s parliament meets at 11am for the official installation of the 349 MPs for this mandate period. The votes for the Speaker and three Deputy Speakers are the first item on the agenda, after which the parties each select their parliamentary leaders and then vote on who should chair each of the parliamentary committees. 

READ ALSO: What happens next as parliament reopens? 

In a joint press release announcing the decision, the parties also agreed that the Sweden Democrats would be given eight of the 16 chairmanships the bloc will have of parliamentary committees in the next parliament, and that MPs for all four parties would back Julia Kronlid, the Sweden Democrats’ Second Deputy Leader, as the second deputy Speaker, serving under Norlén. 

In the press release, the parties said that Norlén had over the last four years shown that he has “the necessary personal qualities and qualifications which the role requires”. 

The decision to retain Norlén, who presided over the 134 days of talks and parliamentary votes that led to the January Agreement in 2019, was praised by Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson. 

Norlén, she said in a statement, had “managed his responsibilities well over the past four years and been a good representative of Sweden’s Riksdag.” 

The decision to appoint Kronlid was opposed by both the Left Party and the Green Party, who said that she supported tightening abortion legislation, and did not believe in evolution.

The Green Party’s joint leader Märta Stenevi said that her party “did not have confidence in Julia Kronlid”, pointing to an interview she gave in 2014 when she said she did not believe that humans were descended from apes.

The party has proposed its finance spokesperson Janine Alm Ericson as a rival candidate. 

The Left Party said it was planning to vote for the Centre Party’s candidate for the post second deputy Speaker in the hope of blocking Kronlid as a candidate.