Swedish Election Results

Sweden held a general election yesterday, and it did not go the way myself and other lefties would have liked. Parliament has 349 seats, and 175 is thus a majority. Before the election, the various right-wing and centrist parties held 178 seats. Now they hold 192. But the conservative voters have not only become relatively more numerous: they have also diversified in their sympathies, propelling the brown fringe of the right-wing block into Parliament in the shape of a new populist anti-immigration party, the Swedish Democrats.

The Swedish conservatives are basically like the US Democrats. Their leader Fredrik Reinfeldt endorsed Obama before the US election. So not even they want anything to do with the anti-immigration party. This means that the right-wing block has effectively lost a few seats to a party that exists outside and to the right of the two main blocks in Parliament. Of those 192 right-wing seats, only 172 will actually be allowed to take part in government, leaving 157 to the leftie-green block.

There has been some concern that this might give the anti-immigration party undue influence since theoretically they might threaten to block governmental decisions they don’t like by voting with the opposition (157+20=177). But that would mean that they had to vote with the lefties, which is highly unlikely on most contentious issues.

Meanwhile, Reinfeldt is rumoured to be negotiating a deal with the Greens in order to eliminate any possibility of anti-immigration party shenanigans.

I’m a bit disgusted that ~6% of the electorate voted for the anti-immigration party. They’re bigger than the Christian Democrats and the Former Commies now. We had a similar party in Parliament during the 1991-94 period, and they made fools of themselves through inexperience and general stupid thuggishness. At the first opportunity, the voters unceremoniously threw them out. I expect no less for the Swedish Democrats.

As for my home municipality of Nacka, there was little change: most significantly the Soc-Dems that I voted for lost a quarter of their seats to other parties. The only real reasons for me to rejoice somewhat after this election is that my housing estate’s participation was significantly less crap than usual (though it did us no apparent good), and that the anti-immigration party remains unrepresented in our municipal hall.

Update 23 September: After various recounts and checks the final result of the election is right-wing block 173 seats, leftie block 156 seats, anti-immigration party 20 seats.

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Comments

  1. #1 Henrik
    September 20, 2010

    And yet the new situation may prove to be a benefit. If the Environment Party (Mp) sustain their unwillingness to cooperate with the blue block (and given that the blue block will continue to not cooperate with nazis … err, the Swedish Democrats) Reinfeld will have to find partners across parliament for every major decision – not necessarily a bad thing for swedish politics!

  2. #2 Martin R
    September 20, 2010

    Hope you’re right. Though unless I’m misinformed, the one party in the oppositional block that is most amenable to cooperating with the right is the Greens.

  3. #3 Nick Williams
    September 20, 2010

    Interestingly enough, the voters who turned out yesterday to support the Swedish Democrats deserted from the Social Democrats. Most of them are blue collar, unemployed after the recent global downturn, looking for a scapegoat to blame for being thrown on the scrapheap. Under a Social Democratic government these men wouldn’t have been thrown on the scrapheap. However, this does not excuse their response. Often in times of trouble we show our true colours. If nothing else it shows Swedish state sponsored feminism to be a sham. On the verge of electing a woman prime minister, the Social Democrats cannot deliver the needed votes from their core supporter base and open the flanks to a far right party.

  4. #4 Hans Persson
    September 20, 2010

    Personally, I hope that MP goes along with the blues. A blue-green government will almost surely be better than a purely blue one.

  5. #5 Martin R
    September 20, 2010

    Oh yes, certainly. And there is something to say for conservative voters squandering their votes on a party that nobody wants to cooperate with.

  6. #6 Richard D
    September 20, 2010

    If 6% of the electorate voted for such a party here, the likelihood would be that they would get no seats and no influence whatsoever.

    It is results like these that put me in two minds about first past the post. Mainly because it also means parties I vote for don’t get into government either (or at least they didn’t until this year).

    Forgive my ignorance but I thought Sweden had fairly tough immigration policies already?

  7. #7 Michael Geller
    September 20, 2010

    I can’t see how you can call the so called sweden democrats (anti-immigration party) a far right or even a right wing party. Their politics are a unholy mix of the social democrats and the christian democrats with a mix of immigration fear thrown in. Most of their notions would felt right home with the social democrats in the 40- and 50-ies (baring the anti-immigration focus).

    The only way to stop them is to see what they are, mostly a uncoordinated group of 20-40 year old frustrated blue colour men. Taking them on like they was traditional fascist will fail as it has failed up to now. You shouldn’t dance around the fat guy in the school yard hazing him and believe that he will take it in the right way and start a diet. You talk to him and show him that his bad food and training habits is making him sick and you do it with respect because he is misguided not a freak.

  8. #8 Martin R
    September 20, 2010

    Rich, I can’t really say how tough our policy is in international comparison. I do know the door isn’t wide open.

    Micke, I’m not sure how you treat 6% of the electorate in the same manner as if you wanted to be nice to a fat kid in school. A bit late for education, isn’t it?

  9. #9 Michael Geller
    September 20, 2010

    Martin, I agree that SD parliament members more or less are lost cases but the 6% of the voters that vote them in are to be treated one by one as individuals. Any of them shown that we need our immigrants to meet the future is one voter less for SD. Easy to say, harder to practice, that’s the sad part.

  10. #10 Nick Williams
    September 20, 2010

    Some credence could be given to the idea that the Swedish Democrats are not a clear-cut Nazi party. I was thinking the other day about how in the crime fiction of Henning Mankell, the villain is always obvious, either a neo-Nazi group, or ruthless, foreign criminals. Portraying the Swedish Democrats as Nazis when strictly speaking they may not be, salves our collective conscience.

    Still, they are not the sort of people in whose company I’d feel comfortable. The racist, misogynist and homophobic jokes would be beyond my tolerance threshold. They come from that section of the Social Democrats, sceptical of labour migration as something that undercuts domestic wages.

    This type of nasty person is always with us, but most of the time our leaders cynically use client politics to keep the lid on their discontent. Instead of buying them off, education might be the better policy, because in times of scarcity, when there is no money for bribery, they are not above resorting to bullying to influence the political process.

  11. #11 Joakim S
    September 20, 2010

    You forget to mention that Swedish Democrat voters cannot really be characterised as diversified conservatives since an equal share are former social democrats. They are probably more accurately identified as people with anti immigration sympathies from all camps who share a feeling that the Establishment has somehow let them down.

  12. #12 Hank
    September 20, 2010

    SD has well documented ties to less polished parts of the swedish white power/neo nazi movement. That is of course to be expected since they formed out of Bevara Sverige Svenskt (“Keep Sweden Swedish”) in the late 80s.

    Swedish speaking people may find the Expo website informative.

  13. #13 Bob Carlson
    September 20, 2010

    The Swedish conservatives are basically like the US Democrats.

    I had glanced through Ophelia Benson’s postings concerning the elections, but was so confused by those that I consulted this page in trying to get a better understanding. When you say “Swedish conservatives” are you speaking of the Christian Democrats?

  14. #14 Janne
    September 20, 2010

    “And there is something to say for conservative voters squandering their votes on a party that nobody wants to cooperate with.”

    Their supporters come from all sides of the Swedish electorate, with about equal numbers from the Moderates and the Social democrats.

    As the Moderates moved to the center and embraced the principles of the welfare state (social democracy has won – great for us; less so for the Social democratic party) they’ve shed much of their old right-wing, some of whom have ended up in SD. And it’s not exactly a secret that parts of the social democratic grassroots are more than a little xenphopbic and averse to the internationalism that the party espouses.

    On the good side, with far-right* racists all gathering under one party, it makes for a much clearer, unambiguous target to debate against, and to distance yourself from. Other parties can effectively turn to their own fringe groups and tell them in no uncertain terms that “We are against what they stand for. If you agree with them, you are not part of us”. That was much harder to do when they were embedded into every party.

    The greatest danger is for parts of the far left to use this to its own advantage by going into violent conflict. That would help them and the SD both to gain and keep supporters, but it would be a loss for all the rest of us who would rather see both lose any and all influence they now have, not increase it.


    * As some commenters above state, they don’t really sit comfortably anywhere on the left-right scale. neo-Nazis like this have been labeled far right in part simply to clearly distinguish them from their far-left loony counterparts.

  15. #15 Art
    September 20, 2010

    Sorry about the wingnut infection. Hope you didn’t catch it from the US. Lots of it going around here. I hope the infection clears up, for both nations, soon.

  16. #16 Marco Borg
    September 20, 2010

    I am glad to learn that protests are being held in Sweden against the fact that not only were people allowed to vote for the SD but also elect members in Parliament. Trying to stop the SD from having meetings was obviously not democratic enough. Perhaps the best way to extend democracy is to develop the semi-secret nature of the election ballot. If selected members of the Immigrant Muslim community are found responsibilities in the voting room, this surely would inhibit the Nazis from voting.

    The second way to extend democracy in Sweden is to expose the fundamentals of the party. Everyone is aware of the anti-immigration bias of the party. Few are aware of its pro-Christian and pro-Semitic sympathies. These sympathies should be exposed. The democratic choice of the Swedes is to have aggresive atheism and anti-Zionism for the Swedes and for women in the urban Muslim areas (Arab and Swedes) to wear modest dress as prescribed by youths in the basement mosques.

    Finally both the government and opposition must understand that in order to attract more desirable large families from Anatolia, Somalia, Iraq, Swedish working people must be prepared to fork out more. No one expects people to leave lovely hot Somalia and go to cold Sweden to work.

  17. #17 Martin R
    September 21, 2010

    When you say “Swedish conservatives” are you speaking of the Christian Democrats?

    No, I meant the “Moderate” party, our main conservative party. I’d say the CDs with their religious affiliation, their family values and their somewhat restrained homophobia are somewhere between the two main US parties on many issues.

    Sorry about the wingnut infection.

    Thanks Art. I’m afraid we’re quite capable of producing home-grown xenophobes autocthonously. /-:

  18. #18 Akhôrahil
    September 21, 2010

    The Moderate party hasn’t been conservative for quite some time now (any more than the Social Democrats have been socialist)- they’re a right-end social liberal party, along with two other right-end social liberal parties and the value-conservative Christian Democrats. The Social Democrats, in contrast, is a left-end social liberal party.

    (So yes, social liberals make up for something like 80% of the parliament. This is, of course, a Good Thing.)

  19. #19 Bob Carlson
    September 21, 2010

    Thanks, Martin, for pointing out that it is the Swedish Moderate party that is largely equivalent to the American Democratic Party. One of the ironies of our wingnut (Tea Party) branch of of the American Republican Party is that it gets substantial funding and support from the same wealthy businessman that provided funding for the Smithsonian’s Hall of Human Origins. Are there any wealthy folks of that sort backing the Swedish Democrats?

  20. #20 Martin R
    September 21, 2010

    I haven’t heard of any wealthy backers behind the SD. But we’ve got this libertarian “information wants to be free” party associated with the Pirate Bay, and they have been bankrolled by a wealthy guy with extreme-right sympathies. Didn’t make it into Parliament though.

  21. #21 Ophelia Benson
    September 21, 2010

    I had glanced through Ophelia Benson’s postings concerning the elections, but was so confused by those that I consulted this page in trying to get a better understanding.

    Sorry. I just posted whatever reliable-looking links I could find in my news section, because I took a quick trip to Stockholm a month ago and met a lot of fantastic people so now I’m deeply interested in matters Swedish. Sorry the effect was random!

  22. #22 Mattias
    September 21, 2010

    Martin, the first paragraph of your post is strangely misleading, possibly giving non-Swedish readers the impression that the SD party belongs to, or cooperates with, one of the two political blocs. It should be pointed out (i) that both of the blocs made sure beforehand that they would not negotiate with the party, (ii) that SD, according to all available statistical polls, stole their votes from all major parties in remarkably equal measure, and (iii) that they label themselves in their propaganda as a ‘third alternative’, neither left nor right (this may indeed have been one of the reasons for their success).

    I think a so-called ‘cordon sanitaire’ could be in place here, just like the one placed on Vlaamse Blok in Belgium. In this practice all other parties allocate seats proportionally to blank out the votes of the extreme party (including those where the extreme party conforms to broad agreement). There is nothing undemocratic with this process and those who voted for SD to protest against what they see as ‘the establishment’ would surely lose their patience before the election in 2014, reducing the party to a brown core of probably considerably less than 1% of the population. In fact, Martin Peterson at Univ. Eindhoven has advocated this practice in a Swedish newspaper: http://www.dn.se/debatt/gor-som-i-belgien-satt-sd-i-karantan-1.1171401

  23. #23 Martin R
    September 22, 2010

    I didn’t mean to imply that the SD was an accepted part of the right/centre block. (See the second paragraph.) But SD is clearly right of centre, regardless of how its current supporters happened to vote in 2006.

    The cordon sanitaire is a pretty neat idea!

  24. #24 Heikki
    September 22, 2010

    I find it troublesome how the mainstream parties in Sweden are boxing the SD out from the political field. I terms of democracy, they are saying they will ignore the opinions & concerns of 6% of the voters. I have little sympathy for fascism (though I would not take a jump to claim SD as such), but pretending that growing support for anti-immigration policies is not a sign of a problem I find extremely anti-democratic/wise.

    Hiding your head to the sand, should not be a public policy. And the means of attack agains the SD, I find purely despicable: http://www.svd.se/stockholm/nyheter/man-knivskuren-pa-sodermalm_5368379.svd (a man stabbed after a peaceful anti-SD demonstration)

  25. #25 Janne
    September 22, 2010

    But Heikki, that happens to any small party that is not a potential coalition partner. The Communists were similarly ignored and shunned whenever the Social democrats didn’t need their support, and I doubt the Christian Democrats would find much support from most other parties if they weren’t needed for the coalition.

  26. #26 Andreas Johansson
    September 23, 2010

    I had glanced through Ophelia Benson’s postings concerning the elections, but was so confused by those that I consulted this page in trying to get a better understanding. When you say “Swedish conservatives” are you speaking of the Christian Democrats?

    In US terms, the Greens are Greens, the Left are Stalin, and all the rest are different flavours of Democrats.

  27. #27 Nomen Nescio
    October 1, 2010

    I’d say the CDs with their religious affiliation, their family values and their somewhat restrained homophobia are somewhere between the two main US parties on many issues.

    you think there’s actually room for a party platform in between the two major U.S. ones? looking at their performances in actual practice i’m skeptical you could pound a knife’s edge in that space myself, but i might be wrong…