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2022 SWEDISH ELECTION

Sweden’s right-wing bloc still in slender lead with 90 percent of votes counted

The four parties backing Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson had a lead of three parliamentary seats at half past one on Monday, with 90 percent of votes counted.

Sweden's right-wing bloc still in slender lead with 90 percent of votes counted
Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson arrives at the party's election vigil in Stockholm. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Earlier, two exit polls had given the left-wing bloc a slim lead.

The Moderates leader Ulf Kristersson, who is challenging Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson for the post of prime minister, and two other smaller right-wing parties have for the first time tied up with the anti-immigration and nationalist Sweden Democrats, which looked set to post their best election score yet.

The far-right party was seen garnering around 20.7 percent of votes which, if confirmed, would for the first time make them the country’s second-biggest
party, overtaking the Moderates, the traditional leaders of the right-wing bloc.

The atmosphere at the Moderate Party’s election vigil, which was somewhat depressed after exit results gave the left-wing parties a small lead, has become increasingly more upbeat as the results have come in, with whoops and applause with every new update on SVT and TV4. 

“As we have counted up more and more districts, our result has slowly ticked up which means that there are a few more smiles about,” Maria Malmer Stenergard, the party’s migration spokesperson, told the TT newswire. 

“The difference is getting less and less,” agreed Gunnar Strömmer, the party’s General Secretary. “I guessed earlier in the evening that it would be close, now it’s even tipped over.” 

With 85 percent of the districts counted, the Moderate Party is now on 19 percent, only just below it’s 2018 election result, and far ahead of the 16 percent the party had in the first poll of the evening on TV4. 

“It’s very close, which we knew from the start,” said the Social Democrats’ Social Insurance Minister Ardalan Shekarabi. “We are extremely proud of our election campaign. We will see how it ends. It can be that it comes down to the very last election district.”

One by one, the party leaders have come out to make their speeches, but by midnight neither Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson, nor Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson had come down to join their party’s vigils. 

“Right now, we’re moving towards to change in government,” exclaimed Christian Democrat leader Ebba Busch, as she started her speech, calling the campaign a “nail-biter”, while admitting that her own party’s result appeared to have been disappointing. 

“What an election campaign!” Johan Pehrson, leader of the Liberal Party, said, as he greeted his activists. “We came back. We were out for the count, and we came back.” 

He said that he didn’t think the election result would be clear until the next day. 

“We are a big party today, for real!” exclaimed Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson as he bounded onto stage to jubilant chants of ‘Jimmie Akersson tra-la-la-la-la!’. 

He said it would not be clear if there would be a new government until early next week, but he said that if Ulf Kristersson became prime minister, his party would seek to be part of the government. 

What is clear is that if there is a change in power, we will have a central position in the new government. Our ambition is to be part of the government,” he said.

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POLITICS

Social Democrat leader backs Sweden’s harsh new immigration policies

The leader of Sweden's Social Democrat opposition has backed the harsh new policies on crime and immigration included in the new government's programme, and even signalled openness to the much-criticised begging ban.

Social Democrat leader backs Sweden's harsh new immigration policies

In an interview with the Expressen newspaper, Magdalena Andersson said her party was absolutely agreed on the need for a stricter immigration policy for Sweden, going so far as to take credit for the Social Democrats for the illiberal shift. 

“There is absolutely no question that need a strict set of migration laws,” she told the Expressen newspaper, rejecting the claims of Sweden Democrat Jimmie Åkesson that the government’s new program represented a “paradigm shift in migration policy”. 

“The paradigm shift happened in 2015, and it was us who carried it out,” she said. “The big rearrangement of migration policy was carried out by us Social Democrats after the refugee crisis of 2015, with a thoroughgoing tightening up of the policy.” 

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She said that her party would wait and see what “concrete proposals” the new government ended up making, but she said the Social Democrats were not in principle against even the new government’s most criticised proposal: to slash the number of UN quota refugees from around 5,000 to 900. 

“That’s something we are going to look at,” she said. “It’s been at different levels at different points of time in Sweden.” 

Rather than criticise the new government for being too extreme on migration, Andersson even attacked it for not being willing to go far enough. 

The Social Democrats’ plan to tighten up labour market migration by bringing back the system of labour market testing, she said, was stricter than the plan to increase the salary threshold proposed by Ulf Kristersson’s new government.  

When it comes to the new government’s plans to bring in much tougher punishments for a string of crimes, Andersson criticised the new government for not moving fast enough. 

“What I think is important here is that there are a completed proposals for new laws already on the table which need to be put into effect,” she said. 

She also said she was not opposed to plans for a national ban on begging. 

“We Social Democrats believe that people should have the possibility to get educated, and work so they can support themselves,” she said. “That’s something we’ve believed in all along. You shouldn’t need to stand there holding your cap in your hand.” 

“It’s already possible to bring in a ban in certain municipalities today,” she continued. “So the question is really whether this should be regulated at a national or a local level. We did not decide at out national congress that it should be regulated at a national level, but when the inquiry publishes its conclusions, we will assess the advantages and disadvantages and decide on whether we will keep our position or change.” 

Where she was critical of the new government was in its failure to discuss how it would increase the budgets for municipalities and regional governments, who she said face being forced to drive through savage cuts in real spending to schools, healthcare and elderly care if they were not prioritised in the coming budget. 

“But that’s such a tiny part of this slottsavtal (“Mansion agreement”), and the government’s policy programme suggests they’ve missed something that should really be in focus for the government,” she said, warning that citizens should be braced for dramatic fall in the quality of welfare in the coming years. 

She said her party would also campaign against the new government’s plans to scrap Sweden’s goal of spending one percent of GDP on aid, and also against the new government’s plans to make it harder to build wind energy projects. 

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