Regular readers may know that I have a vested interest in Sweden due to personal factors closer to home and, while I sadly did not get to adopt the country this year for Eurovision or the World Cup (due to their qualifying for neither), I most certainly can adopt them for their election which is coming up next month so I am quickly trying to grow my enthusiasm for and my understanding of it.
What is most interesting about the politics of Sweden is that their mainstream right-wing party is probably, by some distance, to the left of our most left-wing mainstream party (I’ll leave you to decide for yourself which particular UK/Scottish party that may be!)
Sweden, like all other countries, has highs and lows in its politics. The highs include the remarkable integrity shown by a Deputy Prime Minister, Mona Sahlin, who resigned in 1995 after she bought a toblerone bar with her work credit card, an incident that makes our MPs expenses debacle even more ridiculous. (The full detail isn’t quite that flippant, basically she had used her work card to buy 50,000kr of private expenses but had always paid the money back). It didn’t ruin her career though. Mona is the current leader of the challenging Swedish Social Democratic Party and is intent on being the next Prime Minister from next month.
My ‘low’ example from Sweden also includes Mona Sahlin as her party has promised to outspend the ruling Modernitska Party by (I think) £20bn, irrespective of what is promised during the election campaign. A ‘benevolent and reckless bestowing upon my people’ tactic straight out of the Gordon Brown election book if you ask me.
The last election (2006) had the following breakdown:
Social Democrats (very left) – 35%
Moderate Party (quite right) – 26%
Centre Party (Centre, rural, greenish) – 8%
Liberal People’s Party (centre-right) - 7.5%
Christian Democrats (centre-right) – 6.6%
Left Party (Left) – 5.9%
Green Party (Green) – 5.2%
Sweden Democrats (far right) – 2.9%
Result = ‘Alliance for Sweden’ (Moderates, Centre, Liberal People’s, Christian Democrats) ‘won’ with about 49% of the vote and formed the first Government that didn’t involve the Social Democrats for about 70 years.
Current polling has the parties on:
Social Democrats – 30.2%
Moderate Party – 29.3%
Centre Party – 4.2%
Liberal People’s Party – 6.9%
Christian Democrats – 5.5%
Left Party – 5.8%
Green Party – 9.0%
Sweden Democrats – 6.5%
So the ruling Alliance has only 45.9% of the vote and may need to deal with the ‘far right’ Sweden Democrats in order to win power, although one would hope that the Green Party would be a more amenable government partner. (Note that the Greens typically form coalitions with the ‘red’ Social Democrats).
The Swedish Democrats may not quite be the BNP, but they see immigration, Islamization and globalisation as threats to Swedish culture. They believe every child should have “one father and one mother”. Read into that what you will I suppose. Of course the upshot may be that the lefty Social Democrats pick up significant votes from the rightish Moderates to keep out the far-right Swedish Democrats.
So, with me so far? Me neither. Not long to go though till we find out which direction the famously left-wing Sweden will turn next….
The election will be held on Sunday 19th September 2010.
Jag kan inte vänta, men jag måste.