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Nothing is what it used to be in Swedish politics. The 2018 election came to confirm pronounced changes in how politics and election campaigns work in the country. Sweden has a new political landscape where the decline of the Social Democrats’ hegemony is confirmed, the big parties are losing voters, the smaller ones are growing and where voters are split in a way that Swedish politics has not seen in modern times. Never before has the Swedish party system been so fragmented, with severe problems in government formation as a consequence. In short, the chance that a strong government will emerge from the 2018 election is slim.
As pre-election polling predicted, Swedish voters have thrown the country into political uncertainly after an election that left the two main traditional parliamentary blocs deadlocked and the third bloc stronger. With the Alliance on 40.3 per cent of the vote and 143 of the 349-seat Riksdag, and the Social Democrats, the Green Party and the Left on 40.7 per cent and 144 seats, the Sweden Democrats’ have, with their 62 seats, strengthened their kingmaker role. But, while they increased from 12.9 per cent of the vote in 2014 to 17.6 per cent in 2018, the party fell well below the 25 per cent predicted by some polls.
The Social Democrats saw their support fall to 28 per cent, the lowest since before World War I. The party in particular lost the union vote. The Social Democrats got approximately 40 per cent of the union vote, losing 11 per cent of their voters to the Sweden Democrats who got 20 per cent of union members’ votes. As a small consolation, the Social Democrats did maintain its record of finishing first in every election since 1917.
Löfven leads transitional government
On 25 September a vote of confidence in the Prime Minister was held in the Riksdag. More than half of the members of the Riksdag voted against Stefan Löfven according to the voting record. (No: 204 votes,Yes: 142 votes, Absent: 3 members). Consequently, the Speaker Andreas Norlén dismissed Stefan Löfven as Prime Minister and relieved the cabinet ministers of their duties. Löfven was instead assigned by the Speaker to lead a so-called transitional government (övergångsregering). A transitional government primarily takes decisions on ongoing or urgent matters. A transitional government may not decide to hold extraordinary elections.
Ulf Kristersson will try to form government
The Speaker has begun the work of producing a proposal for a new prime minister. On 2 October, the Speaker of the Riksdag, Andreas Norlén, said he has asked the leader of t
he Moderate Party, Ulf Kristersson, to try to form government. Norlén said he has given Kristersson a deadline of two weeks to come up with a viable proposal.
Once the Speaker believes that he has found a suitable candidate for prime minister, he will present it to the Riksdag Chamber.When the Speaker submits his proposal for a new prime minister, he also states which parties should be included in the Government. If more than half of the members of the Riksdag vote against the Speaker’s proposal, it will not be passed. The Speaker will then speak with the party leaders again and present a new proposal. The Speaker has four opportunities to do this. If the Riksdag rejects all proposals for a new prime minister, extraordinary elections shall be held within three months.
The work in the Riksdag
A minority government needs to get the support of other parties in order to make sure its policies are passed.
The party groups have an important role to play in the work of the Riksdag. A party group consists of all the members of a party in the Riksdag and the groups usually meet on Tuesday afternoons. A common question at the meetings of the opposition party groups is what position to take on government bills. They can either pass the proposal or present their own alternatives. The party group leaders co-ordinate the work in the Riksdag. As party group leaders coordinate work in the Riksdag and lead negotiations on the bills in the committees, it is essential that the parties have experienced people in place.
The new group leaders of the Riksdag parties have been presented and are as follows:
- Social Democrats: Anders Ygeman
- Moderates: Tobias Billström
- Sweden Democrats: Mattias Karlsson i Norrhult
- Centre Party: Anders W Jonsson
- Left Paty: Mia Sydow Mölleby
- Christian Democrats: Andreas Carlson
- Liberals: Christer Nylander
- Green Party: Jonas Eriksson
Following the events
The road towards forming a government in Sweden continues and it will be long, dwindling road ahead. Keep up with the latest news either through Mundus News – our daily news curated from more than a dozen sources. Or our weekly summary of the main business and political news Mundus Business Insights. If you need more in-depth analysis then check out the Monthly Policy Review.