For members


‘Jimmie, Jimmie, Jimmie’: The Local’s ABBA guide to Sweden’s election

Sweden's complicated political system with a total of eight parliamentary parties can make it difficult to keep up with the ins and outs of Swedish politics. Here's our guide to the election using the universal language of ABBA songs.

'Jimmie, Jimmie, Jimmie': The Local's ABBA guide to Sweden's election
Abba in 1974. Photo: Olle Lindeborg/TT

Social Democrat leader and current Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson will be asking voters to Take a Chance on Me on Sunday, as she stands in a Swedish election for the first time. Andersson took over from her predecessor Stefan Löfven back in November last year, and will be hoping that she has impressed voters enough in the last nine months to hold on to power.

Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson, informal leader of the opposition and the man most likely to become Sweden’s prime minister if the right-wing bloc wins, may be thinking Should I Laugh or Cry at the moment, after the Sweden Democrats overtook his party in the polls a few weeks ago.

Despite polling at some of their worst figures in decades, the Moderates have still got a chance of their bloc winning the election, meaning that Waterloo could be a better song for his party as he accepts his fate to potentially govern alongside the Sweden Democrats: “I was defeated, you won the war. Promise to love you forevermore. Couldn’t escape if I wanted to. Knowing my fate is to be with you”.

“How could I ever refuse? I feel like I win when I lose”.

The Sweden Democrats’ leader Jimmie Åkesson will be hoping that the Moderates will Gimme Gimme Gimme (or should that be Jimmie Jimmie Jimmie?) some ministerial posts in government if they win, and may even take over their offices in Sweden’s parliament if they cement their status as Sweden’s second-largest party come Sunday.

“Gimme Gimme Gimme some posts in your government…” Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Andersson on the other hand is still holding out hope for the Liberals – who have pledged allegiance to the right-wing bloc after previously supporting the Social Democrats – to switch back to her side after the next election.

As recently as August 24th in her party leader interview on public broadcaster SVT, Andersson said she would rather govern with the Liberals rather than the Left Party, letting Liberal Party leader Johan Pehrson know I Still Have Faith in You

“There was a union of heart and mind,” the song goes, “the likes of which are rare and oh-so hard to find.”

The Social Democrats are currently the ruling party and largest party in parliament, but they will not be able to govern without asking other parties – most likely the Greens, Centre and Left – “Voulez Vous (do you want) to form a government?” after the election.

The Left Party are likely to be thinking Ring Ring, “why don’t you give me a call?” if their bloc comes out on top on Sunday, hoping that the Social Democrats will offer them a place in government in return for their support. “Ring, ring, I stare at the phone on the wall,” as the song goes. “I sit all alone impatiently, won’t you please understand the need in me? So, ring, ring, why don’t you give me a call?”

I Have a Dream is perhaps the best fit for Centre Party’s leader Annie Lööf, who has reluctantly sided with the Social Democrats in protest against the Sweden Democrats being welcomed into the right-wing bloc.

Her real dream would be a government spanning the centre of politics, pulling together the Social Democrats, Moderates, Liberals and Christian Democrats (and perhaps also the Greens), to exclude the two most right-wing and most left-wing parties: the Left and the Sweden Democrats.

With the Moderates, Liberals and Christian Democrats firmly on the side of the Sweden Democrats, this looks more and more unlikely.

Ebba Busch and her falukorv. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

For the Christian Democrats’ leader Ebba Busch, this election is all about Money Money Money. Recently seen brandishing a falukorv sausage to make a point about rising food prices, Busch proclaimed in her summer speech that it has “become too expensive to be Swedish,” promising to lower what she deems “Magda prices” on fuel by slashing taxes, as well as cutting energy costs for the average Swede.

Finally, the One Man One Woman Green Party co-leaders Märta Stenevi and Per Bolund appear to be the only party in an election following a summer with extreme weather across Europe putting out an S.O.S. and warning of an impending climate crisis, making it a key part of their election manifesto.

Both the Greens and the Liberals have been hovering over the 4 percent threshold needed to hold on to their seats, so they’ll be hoping this isn’t Our Last Summer in parliament…

With under a week to go until Sweden goes to the polls, it’s still neck-and-neck. Will Magdalena Andersson be the Dancing Queen on Sunday, or will Ulf Kristersson come out on top? When All Is Said and Done, though, one thing is for certain.

The Winner Takes it All!


Member comments

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


Sweden Elects: New finance minister under fire after first long interview

In our weekly Sweden Elects newsletter, The Local's editor Emma Löfgren explains the key events to keep an eye on in Swedish politics this week.

Sweden Elects: New finance minister under fire after first long interview


Elisabeth Svantesson has given her first long interview as finance minister, speaking to the Svenska Dagbladet daily just days after she presented her first budget on behalf of Sweden’s new, right-wing government.

The government has already faced accusations of deprioritising the climate crisis, and Svantesson conceded in the interview that its planned investment in nuclear power (which is a low-emission source of energy, but takes time to develop, so it pays off only in the long run) would also make it difficult to reach Sweden’s climate targets within the next decade.

Asked what will happen if Sweden does not meet its Agenda 2030 target, the sustainable development targets agreed by the United Nations, by that year, she said: “It would mean that we don’t meet the targets. If we don’t we don’t, but our ambition is to steer towards that goal.”

That quote, which was perceived as far more laissez-faire than the situation warrants, was met with criticism from the opposition.

“I’m astounded at how you sign agreements and vote for legislation in parliament only to ignore it when you feel like it,” said Green Party leader Per Bolund.

The Social Democrats’ former finance minister Mikael Damberg gave a diplomatic-or-patronising answer (a school of conflict avoidance that can be perfected only by a party that’s more used to being in power than not being in power) and guessed that Svantesson had perhaps not meant it like that. “Svantesson has had a lot to do this week, maybe she’s tired.”

Speaking of interviews, one Swedish newsroom has not yet been getting them, at least not with senior ministers. One of public broadcaster SVT’s top political interviewers, Anders Holmberg, points out that all four right-wing party leaders and several ministers have declined to appear on his “30 minuter”, a show famous for putting hard-hitting questions to politicians and senior decision-makers. It’s of course not mandatory to say yes to all interviews even as a politician, but it’s an unusual move.

It’s interesting that Bolund tried to attack Svantesson specifically on not following through on commitments. This has been a recurring piece of criticism since the new government was elected two months ago.

The budget was more conservative (in this particular case I mean conservative as in cautious rather than as in right-wing) than you might have expected based on the government’s election pledges, and it’s not the only campaign promise that they’ve been forced to backtrack on.

“The central thing is that they’re breaking most of their major election promises at the same time as as they’re not really managing to take care of the big social problems Sweden faces today,” Damberg told SVT.

To be fair, you would kind of expect him to say this (when has a political opposition party ever praised the government’s budget?), but significantly, the criticism hasn’t only come from the left-wing opposition.

Moderate Party politicians in the powerful Skåne region earlier this month slammed their party for failing to deliver the promised support to those suffering sky high power bills in the southern Swedish county.

“There are effectively no reforms, and they’re not putting in place the policies they campaigned for in the election,” the head of the liberal think tank Timbro told the Aftonbladet newspaper about the budget.

It will be interesting to see whether the label as “promise breakers” sticks, and whether that will affect the right-wing parties in the next election.

Did you know?

Parties make more and more pledges during election campaigns. Ahead of the 2014 election, a whopping 1,848 vallöften (election promises) were made, according to research by Gothenburg University, up from 326 in 1994.

You may not believe this, because the stereotypical image of the dishonest politician perhaps unfairly endures, but research shows that most politicians keep most of their election promises most of the time.

Swedish parties in a single-party government and coalition governments with a joint manifesto tend to deliver on between 80 and 90 percent of their vallöften, according to political scientist Elin Naurin. For coalition governments without a joint manifesto, it ranges from 50 to 70 percent.

In other news

the deputy mayor of the town of Norrtälje, who got 15 seconds – technically 26 seconds – of fame after he was left speechless when a reporter asked him to defend hefty pay rises for top councillors has resigned, saying he wants to take responsibility for what happened.

He also told SVT about his long and very awkward silence on camera that his brain had simply blacked out after having worked for 13 hours straight and gone nine hours without food in the post-election frenzy.

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