Historic Swedish election on September 14

After a time during which the Swedish government of the last eight years has reached historic levels of disapproval, citizens will vote on Sunday, Sept. 14 to determine which parties will steer the country for the next four years. Sweden's multi-party political system allows for a variety of coalition governments, in recent years among the traditionally center-right.


Last week was the most eventful of an otherwise comparatively quiet campaign. Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s speech about Sweden’s need to prepare to "open their hearts" to welcome ever increasing amounts of refugees received a lot of attention. The PM's speech was preceded a week earlier by economic forecasts of Finance Minister Anders Borg that were even harsher than those presented just a couple months ago. He specifically mentioned that asylum seekers fleeing Iraq and Syria are straining Sweden's public finances. Sweden's asylum policy is one of the most generous in Europe, and only days before Reinfeldt's speech, Swedish media reported Sweden can expect 100,000 refugees to arrive this year.

Then, Reinfeldt put aside the refugee initiative and gave attention to the improbability of a red-green coalition to form a functioning government. Another dramatic move that didn’t seem to make an impression on public opinion. With just two weeks left until the election, the four center-right Alliance parties (The Centre Party, Christian Democrats, Liberal People's Party and the Moderate Party) have support of almost 38 percent, according to a poll by Ipsos presented by Dagens Nyheter.

“It is hard to say how the Prime Minister's initiative on the refugee issue influenced public opinion, but based on these results it does not look like Fredrik Reinfeldt has managed to overturn the election campaign,” said David Ahlin of Ipsos.

When the refugee issue was raised by Fredrik Reinfeldt, the opposition claimed his gambit would benefit the Sweden Democrats, but no such effect took place. The Sweden Democrats and the Green Party are fighting right now about a place as the third largest party.

Even after more recent additions and changes in government issues, opinions are fairly stable. The low approval rating of the governing parties is a major advantage for the red-green parties (the Social Democrats, Left Party and Green Party). Support for them is a good bit larger than the overall support for the governing Alliance, which sits where it has been all year at just under 40 percent, according to Ipsos' research. The three red-green parties together are 11 percentage points higher than the Alliance.

One of the losers thus far is the Left. The Left peaked in April at 9.4 percent, but the party has since lost a third of the votes cast. Ahlin suggests that the party may have overestimated the importance of the issue of profit making private alternatives in welfare.

Ipsos also created a marker that shows self-confidence among the Alliance's supporters has increased since June, but still shows 53 percent of the bourgeois voters may vote for the next government to be headed by the Social Democrats. Certainty of a red-green victory has decreased slightly — 84 percent believe the Social Democrats are leading the country after the election, which is down from 91 percent in June.