The Swedish general election began this morning, with the polls open, there is a close battle between left and right, with an anti-immigration party (Sweden Democrats) are looking to make progress and become a dominant party in the race for PM, but no party is likely to form a majority government. Sound familiar?
Prime Minister Lofven currently holds a minority government, a centre-left coalition government conjoined with the Social Democrats and Green Party.
Sweden Democrats (SD) are predicted to have 20% of the voters support, putting them in second place, meanwhile Prime Minister Stefan Lofven accused the SD of extremism and to vote for them is a ‘dangerous’ and therefore reckless decision. However, Lofven’s governing party, the Social Democrats, a centre-right party, are neither in the position to form a majority government and can be interpreted as a play to sway voters on the last day of campaigning, to vote for a more favourable party, and if re-elected, have less extremist opposition in Parliament.
As in the UK, Sweden’s general election has centred around the topic of immigration control, in which the SD has seen considerable support in previous elections, doubling the number of seats for their party in 2014, and predicted to do the same today. Prime Minister Lofven has reiterated his fight against extremism, vowing to carry on the fight should he lose the general election against the ‘’dark forces… mobilising in Sweden’’.
The SD responded by comparing Lofven’s politics to the rest of Europe, as Jimmie Akesson, SD’s leader, believes Sweden has always been ‘an extreme country in many ways’, especially when it comes to immigration. However, the SD was linked for years to neo-Nazis and other far-right groups, and unsurprisingly, they would trumpet separatist movements, and seen as “hateful forces mobilising in Sweden and agitating people against each other’’ as put by PM Lofven, and until recently, the general public. Only entering parliament in 2010.
The Sweden Democrats have been working to rebrand themselves commercially, changing its logo to a blue and yellow daisy; the colours of the Swedish flag, from a flaming torch, in an attempt to appeal to more women and high-income supporters, who previously wouldn’t vote for a party that projects such extremism, even if their manifesto has not changed even slightly.
The SD party has had its fair share of scandals, with racism being the main topic of discourse, despite Akesson saying there is zero tolerance on the subject and members have been expelled, candidates have sung lyrics “Swedes are white and the country is ours” on various social media platforms.
On other accounts, Sweden is also concerned with their welfare, especially their healthcare system which has seen increasing pressure since Sweden has received a higher volume of migrants during the 2015 migrant crisis than some other European countries, taking in 163,000 asylum seekers. Tensions being raised by the SD are causing trouble among other party leaders concerned with the integration of both nationals and non-nationals, as a minority of the population has become more aggressive, with an increase in shootings, although not officially linked to the rise in immigration.
The Green Party have also seen an increase in popularity despite internal conflict due to their policies on controlling climate change, which has come after long summers rife with wildfires. Almost 25,000 hectares of forest was burnt and farmers were devastated by their livestock and crops being burned, landing a blow to the Swedish economy.
The Left party is also gaining traction, from voters who feel there’s no other option to choose from and remain dissatisfied with the mainstream parties’ approach to migration.