Incumbent Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson addressing an election rally of the Social Democrats. (Photo: via Facebook)
On Sunday, September 11, general elections were held to the 349-seat unicameral Swedish parliament, which saw a voter turnout of 81.3%. As the counting neared its end late on Monday, both the incumbent coalition led by the Social Democrats and the right-wing opposition were locked in a tight fight to reach the simple majority of 175. According to the latest projections, the opposition parties, including the right-wing Sweden Democrats (73 seats), Moderate Party (67 seats), Christian Democrats (19 seats) and Liberals (16 seats), together are likely to have a single seat lead over the combined tally of the incumbent coalition government led by Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, comprising the Social Democrats (108 seats), Center Party (24 seats), Left Party (24 seats), and Greens (18 seats).
The Social Democrats have managed to win eight more seats than their previous tally and secured 30.5% of the votes polled. The Sweden Democrats emerged as the game changer and have become the second largest party in the new parliament, securing 12 more than its previous tally and 20.6% votes, displacing the Moderate Party which managed to bag 67 seats (three less than its previous tally).
According to reports, the parties in the opposition camp are busy holding talks on forming a stable coalition government. The liberal-conservative Moderate Party is ready to support a government led by Sweden Democrats. Such a coalition is likely to have the support of the Christian Democrats (KD) as well. The crucial question here is whether the Liberals agree to support or sit in a government led by the right-wing Sweden Democrats headed by Jimmie Åkesson. The final results are yet to be officially announced after the counting of around 200,000 overseas and early votes.
Major issues that dominated the election campaign include Sweden’s request for NATO accession, the Russia-Ukraine war, the cost of living crisis, immigration and refugees, taxation, transition to green energy, rise in crimes and the spike in hate crimes. Most of the parties including the Social Democrats and Sweden Democrats have called for joining NATO by revising Sweden’s neutrality. Sweden Democrats’ vigorous campaign for lesser intake of refugees and stricter immigration rules has helped to increase in its support among right-wing conservative sections, cutting into the traditional support base of the Moderate Party.
Meanwhile, working class sections especially the communist parties expressed dissatisfaction with election results.
On September 12, Andreas Sorenson from the Communist Party of Sweden (SKP) told Peoples Dispatch that “at this moment, the preliminary results show that there is no clear winner and that only one member of parliament can make the difference.” He said that “with the Social Democrats in power for the last four years, we have witnessed limitations on the right to strike, a deterioration of the working conditions and a rising militarism and participation in the war in Ukraine; we have seen Sweden apply for membership in the NATO and we have seen massive increases in prices, especially concerning electricity.”
“On the other end, the Sweden Democrats have set the tone within the entire right-wing camp with slogans on deportation of criminals, stopping immigration and toughening up on crime. This will mean an increase in repression, basically, which will affect the entire population in Sweden,” Sorenson added.
Jakob Lejon, the International Secretary of Sweden’s Revolutionary Communist Youth (RKU), the youth wing of the Communist Party, told Peoples Dispatch that “judging from the preliminary results we’ve seen so far, it doesn’t look like that the long-reigning social democrats will be the ones to administer capitalism this time, and for the next four years, Sweden might be led by the most ghoulish representatives capital can find. This is not a question of preferring the ‘lesser evil’. We must instead realize that what is needed to break the never ending cycles of these two evils is socialism!”
He also added that the Kingdom of Sweden has never been a socialist workers’ republic or a socialist country as many people think. “The Social Democrats are active agents in the preservation of Swedish capitalism and imperialism and have often stood in the capitalist vanguard of privatization, austerity politics, ‘law and order’, racism, imperialism etc.,” he said.