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2022 SWEDISH ELECTION

IN DATA: Who controls Sweden’s regions and municipalities?

EU citizens and people resident in Sweden for at least three years are eligible to vote in Sweden's regional and municipal elections in September. Who currently controls these areas, and what power do they have?

IN DATA: Who controls Sweden's regions and municipalities?
Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT. Graphic: The Local

REGIONS

How many regions are there in Sweden?

There are 21 regions in Sweden. 

What do regions control?

Regions are in charge of healthcare, dental care until the age of 23 and regional development.

On top of this, regions can choose whether to adopt policy on culture, education and tourism.

Regions are also responsible for public transport, alongside local municipalities.

Who is in control of which region?

No region is controlled by one party alone – the lowest number of parties in control of a region is three, and the highest is six. For that reason, it is more relevant to look at which bloc controls each region.

A way of seeing which party has the most power in each region is to look at which party holds the ordförandepost, the regional chairperson position.

The Moderates hold nine chairperson positions, the Social Democrats hold eight, the Centre Party holds two, the Christian Democrats hold one, and the Healthcare Party – a local party in Norrbotten – holds one.

In this graph, you can hover over each region to see which bloc is responsible for governing each region.

The data and categories used in these graphs is from Sveriges Kommuner och Regioner. It has used the following categories when dividing region control into blocs, and the same categories also apply to the municipalities graph in this article.

  • Right: an area where one or more right-wing parties (not including Sweden Democrats) is in power.
  • Left: an area where the Social Democrats and/or Left Party is in power.
  • Cross-bloc: an area where one or more right-wing parties and the Social Democrats and/or Left Party are in power
  • Local parties and the Green Party can be included in right, left and cross-bloc categories.
  • Other: an area controlled by the Sweden Democrats alone, or the Sweden Democrats alongside one or more other parties, or a region controlled by one or more non-parliamentary parties.

For the purpose of this data, the Centre Party is included in the right-wing bloc.

How has this changed in recent years?

The number of right-bloc controlled regions has increased from 9 to 12 since 2010, and the number of left-bloc controlled regions has decreased from 10 to 1. Cross-bloc controlled regions have increased from 2 to 8.

Of the eight regions under cross-bloc control in 2018, all eight have the Social Democrats in regional government alongside one or more of the Centre Party, the Liberals or the Christian Democrats. In one cross-bloc region, the Social Democrats are in control of regional government alongside the Moderates and the Liberals.

The Sweden Democrats are not currently in power in any Swedish region.

MUNICIPALITIES

How many municipalities are there in Sweden?

There are 290 municipalities or kommuner in Sweden.

What do municipalities control?

Swedish municipalities are responsible for the following:

  • social care (such as care of the elderly and the disabled)
  • schooling and municipal adult education (komvux)
  • planning and building issues
  • environmental health protection
  • cleaning and upkeep of public areas and processing waste
  • water and drainage
  • emergency services
  • crisis preparation and civil defence
  • libraries
  • housing

On top of this, municipalities can choose whether to adopt policy on the following areas:

  • leisure and culture
  • energy
  • employment
  • business

Who is in control of which municipality?

Unlike with Sweden's regions, a number of municipalities are controlled by one party alone. These include one Moderate municipality, twelve Social Democrat municipalities, two Sweden Democrat municipalities and one led by a local party.

In terms of chairperson positions, the Social Democrats have the most, with 126. The Moderates have 84, the Centre Party has 54, the Christian Democrats have 4, the Liberals have 4, the Sweden Democrats have 4 and the Left Party has 3. Other local parties hold chairperson positions in 4 municipalities.

On top of this, there are seven municipalities where two parties alternate chairperson responsibilities: Centre/Social Democrats in one municipality, Moderates and Centre in two, Moderates and Social Democrats in one, Moderates and Liberals in one, Moderates and Christian Democrats in one and Left, Greens and Social Democrats in one.

The graph below shows which municipalities are controlled by which blocs. Note that this graph uses the same categories as the graph above, where the Centre Party is considered to be part of the right-wing bloc.

How has this changed in recent years?

Of the 114 regions under cross-bloc control in 2018, 90 had a Social Democrat chair, 13 had a Centre Party chair, six had a Moderate chair, two had Christian Democrats, one had a Liberal chair and one had a Left Party chair.

The Sweden Democrats govern two regions alone and three in coalition with other parties. They chair four, with the Moderates holding the chairperson post in the fifth region.

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OPINION & ANALYSIS

OPINION: Get organised or Sweden’s open society will be a distant memory

Sweden turned hostile to immigrants and asylum seekers several years ago, but continued to pretend that it was a welcoming nation. Now official politics has caught up with reality, argues David Crouch

OPINION: Get organised or Sweden's open society will be a distant memory

The agreement announced on Friday by the four parties which won Sweden’s election feels like the moment in an episode of Road Runner, where the coyote character spots there is only air beneath him.

For those unfamiliar with the classic Looney Tunes cartoon, there were often scenes in which a character called Wile E. Coyote would run off a cliff, keep running in thin air, look down, realise there was no ground beneath him, and only then fall.

Sweden turned hostile to immigrants and asylum seekers years ago, but continued to pretend that it was a liberal and welcoming nation. Now, with the suddenness of that Road Runner moment, official politics has abruptly caught up with reality. 

Late last year, outgoing Social Democrat justice and migration minister Morgan Johansson was asked in parliament if Sweden had succeeded in reducing asylum rights to the EU minimum. His answer was full of soothing words about protecting people in a troubled world, about humanitarian needs, about a sustainable and humane system. But yes, he said, Sweden’s asylum framework was now the EU minimum and the numbers were the lowest for 20 years. 

With the Tidö Agreement, those soothing words are gone, and there is no longer any pretence that Sweden will continue to take into account individual freedoms, equality or human rights for non-Swedes. The agreement is a relentless, detailed, cold-blooded statement on how this government will cut the rights of all non-Swedish citizens to the bare minimum required by EU law.  Wherever possible, it adds, migrants will be encouraged to return to wherever they came from.  

The new approach will affect every aspect of life for non-Swedes, starting with access to healthcare, housing, child support, schools, and other benefits. It is all designed to minimise the “incentives” for people to come to Sweden. The Local has parsed the document here.

In some sense this is refreshingly honest: there is no longer any need to see through fancy political rhetoric to get to the meat of what is going on.

But it is still a shock to read, for example, that Sweden will change its constitution with the aim of “limiting the rights of asylum seekers as far as is legally possible” (page 34), or that “criminals” who lack Swedish citizenship will be deported “without having been convicted of a crime” (page 19).

In many areas, the groundwork for the shift had already been laid by the outgoing government. As The Local has reported in depressing detail over recent years, life has become harder both for people coming here to work or seek asylum, and for those with non-European backgrounds who already live here.

Attitudes in Swedish society have changed more broadly. A defining feature of this year’s election campaign was that immigrants were for the first time described as a problem in themselves, with politicians of both left and right drawing a connection between immigration and crime.

The media have both reflected and reinforced this shift. As he describes in a new book, the journalist Christian Catomeris left SVT’s flagship Agenda programme because of its negative approach to immigration.

“When [leading Sweden Democrat] Björn Söder now says that public service broadcasting must change, I laugh a little, because I feel that change has already taken place, that the SD’s questions and perspectives have permeated journalism since 2015 and probably also this election,” Catomeris told the journalists’ trade union last month.

The Tidö Agreement refers over and over again to utlänningar, “foreigners”, an unpleasantly pejorative word for non-Swedes. But outgoing prime minister Magdalena Andersson had already started to use the word earlier this year in a rhetorical shift that mirrored the language used by the Sweden Democrats and prepared the ground for her later remarks about “Somalitowns” and talk of forcibly removing immigrants from problem areas.

As an immigrant myself, married to a family of immigrants, who found Sweden’s generous response to the refugee crisis of 2015 inspiring, I am saddened and dismayed by the Tidö agreement. Even if it is only continuing trends already apparent in Swedish society and politics, it both strengthens and accelerates them.

But there is also room to push back. The agreement calls for a large number of inquiries to be set up to investigate how to do all the things the new government wants to do. The word inquiry (utredning) appears in all its different forms no fewer than 182 times throughout the document.

The parties to the agreement each have a right to veto any proposal that emerges from these discussions.

This means there will be many opportunities for Swedish civil society to intervene and make its voice heard. Immigrant, expat and asylum-seeker organisations will need to organise themselves like never before if they want to defend multiculturalism and prevent Sweden’s open society from becoming a distant memory.

David Crouch is the author of Almost Perfekt: How Sweden Works and What Can We Learn From It. He is a freelance journalist and a lecturer in journalism at Gothenburg University.

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