Sweden’s Center-Right Alliance Won, But Needs a Partner to Rule

September 19, 2010

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. Photo by Emilia Öije

The Center-Right Alliance defeated the “Red-Green” opposition block, which is dominated by the social democratic party.  Over 80 percent of the Swedes went to the polls on Sunday, September 19th. It is the first time since World War II that a conservative government has won in two consecutive elections.

The Moderate Party (mildly conservative by American standards) increased 4 percent reaching 30 percent of the vote, according to a preliminary count, landing them 107 seats. The Center Party won 6,6 percent and 22 seats, the People’s Party (social-liberal in a European context and not “liberal” the way Americans interpret the word) got 7,1 percent and 19 seats, while the Christian Democrats won 5,7 percent of the votes and 19 seats. The four parties form the “Alliance,” which together has 172 seats in the 349 seat parliament, while Red-Green opposition (the Social Democrats, the Left Party and the Environmental Party) won 157 seats. This means that the anti-immigrant “Sweden Democrats” (SD) could play a tie-breaker role with the 20 seats it won for the first time after having broken through the 4-percent barrier and won 5,7 percent of the Swedish votes. The win for the SD is a major change in Sweden’s political landscape. The fact that the Alliance should be able to hold on to the power is also a major blow to Sweden’s Social Democratic Party, which ruled Sweden for much of the 20th Century.

Fredrik Reinfeldt, the leader of the Moderate Party have declared that the Alliance will not seek support from the SD, and is instead looking to form a government with the support of the Environmental Party, which would then have to break out of the Red-Green alliance. The alternative – assuming that he will not go back on his promise not to rely on SD, would be to form a minority government.

New York Times highlights the anti-immigration message in SD’s result in its first report:

With its high taxes, generous welfare system and culture of egalitarianism, Sweden has been regarded by many outsiders as a bastion of liberalism and tolerance — a place immune from far-right politics.

However, the integration of minorities within this nation of 9.4 million people has become a growing preoccupation, especially in cities that have experienced high rates of immigration.

Though the official campaign was dominated by discussion of welfare reform and taxation, immigration lurked not far beneath the surface.

Young, slick and tough-talking, the leader of the Sweden Democrats, Jimmie Akesson, 31, campaigned for a 90 percent reduction in immigration, and he has described Muslim population growth as the greatest foreign threat to his country since World War II. He has also called for the immediate withdrawal of Swedish troops from Afghanistan.

Here is an article about the leader of the Sweden Democrats from The Swedish Wire.

And here is an analys the The Economist published right before the election: The strange death of social-democratic Sweden.

The Swedish journalist Per Nyberg reports for CNN:

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