1st Mar 2021

Sweden swings to left, far-right party surges to third place

  • Carl Bildt - Sweden's well-known foreign minister - on the way out after the election result (Photo: Council of European Union)

Sweden woke up to political instability on Monday morning. After a tight election race, the Scandinavian nation faces a shift in power, with Social Democrat party leader Stefan Lofven now having to form a government based on one of the worst election results (31.2%) for the party in a century.

Lofven has vowed his main priority is to ensure the far-right Sweden Democrats do not get any influence.

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But the anti-immigrant party - on 12.9 percent - is now the third largest in parliament, thereby holding the balance of power.

Lofven’s task has been made slightly easier by the resignation of outgoing Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

After conceding late Sunday night, Reinfeldt also said he would resign as leader of the conservative Moderate Party, which has led the Alliance government – a centre-right coalition – for eight years. The Moderate Party slumped to 23.2 percent, from 30.1 percent in the last election.

The announcement put an end to speculation that Reinfeldt would use a shaky parliamentary situation as an opportunity to push his coalition government back into power.

But it is not clear what sort of government is coming next.

The “red-green opposition” – the Social Democrats, the Greens (6.8%) and the Left Party (5.7%) - all campaigned on separate platforms.

All together the left-leaning bloc has 43.7 percent of the vote. That compares with 39.3 percent for Reinfeldt's four party centre-right alliance, which has governed Sweden since 2006.

In reaction to the politically unstable situation, the Swedish krona slumped on Monday morning.

Lofven, for his part, has maintained that his main priority is to ensure the Sweden Democrats will not hold the balance of power in Parliament.

However the Sweden Democrats' high vote tally may undermine any such promises.

Led by Jimmie Akesson, the party has dodged a series of scandals with several party representatives outed for making racist comments online, despite the leadership instituting a zero-tolerance policy on racism.

Just days before the election, a 20-year-old Sweden Democrat election candidate quit after pictures emerged of her wearing an armband with a swastika.

Another factor in the election has been the Feminist Initiative party (Fi). Led by a former Left Party leader, Fi became a force to reckon with after the European Parliament election in May, when it received 5.5 percent of the vote and got to send one woman to Brussels.

The party took credit for steering other parties to focussing on feminism and equality, with the Liberal Party launching the election slogan “Feminism without socialism”.

In the end, however, Fi fell almost a percentage point short of the four-percent barrier needed to enter the Riksdag, the Swedish parliament.


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