What awaits in the elections on Sunday in Sweden

What awaits in the elections on Sunday in Sweden

Elections will be held in Sweden on Sunday to elect legislators to the 349-seat Riksdag, as well as local chapters across the nation of 10 million. Early voting began on 24 August. Here are some key things to know about voting.

What’s at stake?

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson is fighting to keep her centre-left Social Democrats at the helm of the left-wing coalition, but is facing a strong challenge from the right.

Sweden is known for being a welfare society from cradle to grave, and Andersson would like to keep the social safety net that has long defined Sweden and reverse some of the previous government’s market changes. Her party believes that some changes, such as government subsidies to private schools, are leading to even greater inequality.

The once-powerful Social Democrats have been in power since 2014. But as the party’s popularity has waned, it has led a weak government that relies more on other parties to pass laws, creating political instability for the past eight years.

Who is most likely to win?

There are two main blocks, one with four parties on the left and the other with four on the right. Polls leading up to the election say it’s impossible to predict.

“It’s basically a coin toss. There is a 50/50 relationship between the two different parties,” Zeth Isaksson, a sociologist on electoral behavior at Stockholm University, said on Saturday.

Under Swedish law, the party that wins the most seats forms the next government. Polls show that it will most likely be Andersson’s party, which will need to build a coalition with other parties.

But if the left performs poorly, they may not be able to form a coalition. In this case, the baton will be passed to the second largest party, which will try to form a government.

Which party is in second place?

In the most recent elections in 2018, the Moderates, led by the centre-right party Ulf Kristersson, won the second most seats. The Conservative Party is promoting a market economy, lower taxes, and a smaller role for government in a country with a generous welfare state supported by high taxes.

But like the Social Democrats and other mainstream parties across Europe, the moderates have also seen their popularity dwindle amid a populist challenge from the right.

Who are populists?

The Swedish Democrats, a right-wing populist party that takes a hard line on immigration and crime, first entered parliament in 2010 and has grown steadily ever since.

In 2018, the party won 13% of the vote, becoming the third largest force in parliament. Polls show it is likely to improve from Sunday’s figure.

Some Swedes liken the party to Trump-style populism and note that it was founded by far-right extremists decades ago. They do not trust reports of its transformation into a more traditional conservative party.

The party is led by Jimmy Akesson, a 43-year-old former web designer who has been a driving force in trying to moderate the party’s image.

However, the party has clearly picked up on social sentiment and other parties have moved closer to its positions as many Swedes feel they can no longer bear the cost of the country’s generous refugee policy and seek to crack down on crime.

Once pariahs, other conservative parties are increasingly willing to deal with the Swedish Democrats.

On Saturday, Andersson told reporters that the “rise of the far right” was partly the fault of the right-wing opposition, which she said “has spent so much time and effort trying to convince people that the Swedish Democrats are not the party they are on.” actually there is.”

How serious is crime in Sweden?

Some immigrants found it difficult to assimilate into Swedish society, leading to segregation of high crime areas.

Gang violence mostly takes place among criminal networks that deal in drugs or engage in other illegal activities. But recently there have been cases when innocent bystanders have suffered. This year, 48 people were killed by firearms in Sweden, three more than in all of 2021.

Fear caused by shootings and explosions in disadvantaged areas has made crime one of the most pressing issues for Swedish voters.

“Over the past few years, shootings and bombings have become more frequent, and (this violence) is now considered a big social problem,” said Anders Sannerstedt, a political scientist at Lund University in southern Sweden.

gender factor

Less than a year ago, Andersson became Sweden’s first female prime minister, a belated milestone for a country that in many ways exemplifies gender equality.

“I was very proud,” said Ulrika Hunk, a 39-year-old woman who voted early in Stockholm on Friday, saying it took “too much time.”

Polls show that Andersson’s party is particularly popular among women, with men tending to vote more conservatively.

Even though Andersson is the first prime minister, there are still many women in leadership positions. Four parties are led by women, and one party is led by a woman and a man. In Parliament, the gender balance has long been divided roughly 50/50.

Several female voters polled this week said it was very important to them to finally have a woman in their top leadership position, and it was one of the factors they considered when choosing which party to support.

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