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For the past 15 years, Swedish politics has revolved around the Sweden Democrats (SD). Initially, all parties were focused on isolating SD from all forms of influence and power due to the party’s neo-Nazi roots. When the party kept growing election after election, other parties were forced to rethink and some realized that in order to reach the government power again, they must collaborate with SD, in one way or another. The Moderate Party and the Christian Democrats started their reorientation after the 2018 election, followed later by the Liberals.
The choice for the September 2022 election was thus between two newly formed political blocs. On the one side, the Social Democrats (S) led the left-wing coalition including the Green Party (MP) and the Left Party (V). The Center Party (C), usually positioned on the right, also joined this coalition. On the other side, a coalition led by the Moderate Party (M) gathered the Christian Democrats (KD), the Liberals (L) and the Sweden Democrats (SD).
The election of 2022 did also become a choice between supporting the Sweden Democrats or not. Social Democrats invested heavily in winning a third term in the new constellation partly by launching the popular party leader Magdalena Andersson as a sort of presidential candidate and partly by making the election a referendum on SD. S progressed in the election, but it came at the expense of support for its own bloc, which collectively failed to win a majority in the election.
The coalition led by the moderates won by a narrow margin and has now begun the work of forming a government. It is likely that the biggest party within the bloc, SD, will not be a part of the new government given the stigma that prevails from the Liberals and that they are unproven in power. The Swedish parliamentary model allows for minority governments, which has been the norm in Sweden since the Second World War.
The basis for politics within the new government are the issues that came to dominate the election campaign. For instance, limit immigration, get rid of crime and secure the country’s electricity supply with new nuclear power. Usual questions about welfare and work did not get as much attention in the election campaign as people’s concerns about the electricity bill and crime.
There has been a big shift within Sweden in how citizens choose to vote. The big cities and the Stockholm region that traditionally vote right have gone to the left, and industrial areas and rural areas have instead been voting for the right-winged parties. For example, S did gain major support from the voters in the Stockholm region but lost support to SD around the country. The Center Party with its voter base in the countryside has become a party for city dwellers. The Moderates have traditionally been strong in the Stockholm region, but lost some votes there from people who do not like the approach to SD. The young voters have a strong inclination to the right, which is probably due to the fact that it is the group that has taken the consequences of the large refugee immigration.
For business, the new right-winged government will most likely drive a policy that promotes growth by speeding up a new energy policy, and that increases the motivation to get a job. The government coalition has one of its major internal conflict issues here, as social security and health insurance are important issues for the largest party, SD.
The Moderates have been clear that the exclusion and unemployment among the foreign-born must decrease sharply, and we can expect changes there with tightening of subsidies and incentives for hiring. The policy for the green transformation of the industry will be fixed but it will be ensured that the electricity supply is managed. We can also assume that the government will review the taxes with the aim of trying to lower them. In any case, they will not be raised.
On Wednesday 14th of September, the former Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson (S) submitted her resignation to the Speaker and will now lead a transitional government until the new one is in place. As opposition leader, Andersson proclaims that she will scrutinize the new government’s policies closely.
It is most likely that both the Moderate Party and the Christian Democrats will be included in the new government formation. However, forming the government may take some time before it is clear which parties will govern Sweden. The election result paves way for tough government negotiations amongst the right-wing parties.
It is most likely that for the new government to gain support from the Sweden Democrats an agreement on key-issues such as crime, migration, integration, defense, economy/taxes, welfare must be formed and agreed upon. And due to the party’s size, they expect to receive leading positions in the Riksdag such as chairman positions in committees.
This text was originally published on 14.9.2022 by the Finnish-Swedish Chamber of Commerce.
Niklas Nordström is a Senior Advisor at Miltton Sweden. You can subscribe to Niklas’ weekly newsletter (in Swedish) here.