Highly uncertain new Swedish election

The Swedish Social Democrats prime minister, Löfven and his government will go down as the second shortest-lived administration in Swedish history. The period of political uncertainty begun after the populist anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats vote in favor of the budget presented by the center-right Alliance parties, which formed the previous government. The Alliance government was widely considered to have been successful, particularly the pace of job creation achieved in the last few years, but eight years is a long time in politics.

This short lived government is clear failure of the Social Democrats. They would have selected coalitions with majority status. But its also failure of minority government results as one of the important consequences, in Swedish politics. A more cooperative atmosphere might well be needed. The last fiften years have seen a fundamental transformation in coalition government. Both costs and benefits depend on the cabinet type. A series of papers has tried to resolve these political problems and to make clear “how important negotiation is for democracy.

A sharp increase, such as German-style grand coalition has never been tested in Sweden; and Austria’s experience suggests that it could play into the extremists’ hands. Following the collapse of its centre-left government Sweden will now hold snap election in March. The rise of the populist party, who shocked the establishment by coming the third in last September´s elections with nearly 13 per cent of the vote, is unprecedented in Swedish political history.

For decades, Swedish industry was dependent on immigrant workers. People came from the Baltic countries in the 1940s, Italy, Hungary in 1956, Chile after the 1973 coup, Iran after the 1979 revolution and Bosnian, during the Bosnian War of the 1990s. In the new century, refugees have come increasingly from the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. Sweden takes more immigrants per capita than any other European nation. Our tradition of being open to refugees is not new.

Until 2010, Sweden seemed immune to the rise of far-right parties like those in Nordic country. Since then, however, the SD has fundamentally changed the country’s political landscape. As Carl Bildt, former PM and Foreign Minister, put it “Sweden’s current political muddle is also rooted in longer-term changes, which to some extent reflect broader European trends”.Recent gains by the populist anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats make the outcome of new elections highly uncertain. In most policy areas of interest, however, the impact of election is likely to be less obvious. A key question will be whether the Social Democrats can ditch their allies further to the left.

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