Sweden votes “against”, but what is Sweden “for”?

It was quite a high turnout at 83.4% in the general election.

The results show that Sweden has voted “against” many trends but has not really voted “for” anything. The left (red-red-green) will govern while the far-right show the greatest gains. Perhaps this is an indictment of all parties in that none succeeded in presenting any compelling vision of the future. 

After 8 years in power, the free market Alliance have lost power quite decisively, but the Social Democratic block (including the Environment and the Left Party) while clearly the largest grouping, are quite a bit short of an absolute majority. The Moderates lost 6.7% of the vote share. The clear gain is for the anti-Europe, anti-immigration, nationalistic, neo-Nazi party the Sweden Democrats who have more than doubled their vote from 5.7 to 12.9% – a gain of 7.2%. The Social Democrats actually gained virtually nothing (+0.4%). The losers are the small right-of-centre parties supporting the Moderate coalition in government (the Centre Party, Peoples Party and the Christian Democrats). The Environmental Party also lost a bit but will find itself in government anyway. The top 3 parties cover 67% of the vote. As much as 30% of the vote share is split between 6 parties with less than 7% share each. The Left Party (erstwhile communists) are now absolutely necessary to the Social Democrats and may well even be formally in government.

The Feminine Initiative were neither here nor there and ended up as being yet another “spoiler” party.

Sweden election 2014 - graphic from SvD

Sweden election 2014 – graphic from SvD

So a very fractured picture emerges but what strikes me is that voters have generally voted “against” trends they do not like far more than voting “for” anything. Maybe it is simplistic but my reading of the results is that Sweden has expressed strong opposition to:

  1. European meddling in Swedish society
  2. EU bureaucracy
  3. Further immigration (but not necessarily against immigrants)
  4. the Euro
  5. profit – rather than quality – as the basis of health care
  6. profit – rather than quality – as the basis of elderly care
  7. profit – rather than quality – as the basis of schools
  8. ideology in environment

But what Sweden is in favour of is not at all clear.

It will not be easy for the Social Democrats to build a stable government which has any clear direction. The votes “against”  do not allow any block to find a clear way forward – in any direction. Nobody wants to treat – visibly – with the Sweden Democrats. Their votes “for” anything are of little value in themselves and provide neither opportunity or risk to anybody else. They have not the power to get their proposals accepted but they will have the parliamentary votes to stop many things.

I am afraid that we have 4 years of horse-trading and vacillation and drift ahead.

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