The Swedish national election of 2018, with its uncertain parliamentary situation in conjunction with the distinct deadlock in Swedish domestic politics, set the stage for an extremely lengthy government-forming process.
The differences between the two traditional blocks are smaller after the national election of 2018 than before, however, the left-green has a continued advantage over the centre-right Alliance with only one mandate; 144 against 143. The Sweden Democrats party has much stronger parliamentary support this mandate period, consisting of 62 members, compared to the former 49.
The election resulted in Swedish domestic politics facing the most complicated situation in history. In addition, political and ideological contradictions created deadlocks that obstructed the possibilities for any of the prime minister candidates to form a government and pass the government’s economic policies.
Finally, after two lost votes of no-confidence, with only two more to go before the speaker of the house must announce a snap election, two of the Alliance parties chose to leave the centre-right cooperation in favor of an arrangement with the Social Democrats and the Green Party through the January Agreement.
It took Sweden 134 days to put a government in place, a process that usually takes about six days. It is still unclear if the government will outlast this term of office. The settlement between the four parties must be renewed every year, and if the Centre Party and the Liberal Party don’t reach political success through their new unholy cooperation, they have declared that they intend to dismiss the government.
Now, several opinion-leaders and political commentators believe that the election for the European Parliament will become a referendum about the January Agreement, similar to a mid-term-election.
Historically, there has always been a considerably lower participation in the European Parliament election than in national elections, as voters tend to make very late election decisions and are more likely to change their votes than in national elections.
Furthermore, voters find new parties to be a source of entertainment, at least when it comes to new parties who are running for the EP election. Prior to previous elections in the European Parliament, new parties have always risen to the surface and won one or more seats, but have fallen out of the parliament in the next election. In 2004, the EU-critical party June List entered and won three seats but lost their seats the next election. In 2009, the Pirate Party entered the parliament, but lost both of their seats in the last EU election. The same year, the Feminist Initiative was elected to the parliament, but according to all opinion polls, they may lose their seats.
Interestingly enough, there are no strong new parties in the European Parliament’s election campaign in Sweden. One of the traditional parties will likely find a question that stands out and try to win new votes with its help.
Almost all of the parties have one thing in common in this year’s European Parliament election; they are campaigning against something rather than for something.
Emmanuel Macron on the one hand, and Viktor Orbán on the other, will both be seen as examples of what EU shouldn’t look like after the election. Some parties are concerned about federalism and an Ever Closer Union, while others are wary of right-wing populism and nationalism.
The parties that appear to be taking a big leap forward in the election are the Swedish Democrats and the Left Party, two parties on the outer edges of the spectrum. Both have raised the idea of Swexit, an issue they both set aside before the election. The Swedish Democrats is the only party where the majority of voters want Sweden to leave the European Union.
But the prospects are bad for several parties prior to the EU election, most of all the Liberal Party and the Feminist Initiative Party.
Sweden’s most EU-friendly party, the Liberal party, has had a bad start this election campaign. According to several surveys, the party has been under the four per cent threshold, paradoxically at risk of losing their representation in the European Parliament. The situation became much worse due to the party’s lengthy internal discussions regarding who should be the main candidate for the election. In addition, the party is currently divided around its political direction as well as who should be the party leader.
The Feminist Initiative Party has a seat in the parliament, which is indeed a big advantage prior to the election. Among other things, their top candidate will participate in the media’s hearings. The interest for FI, however, is much lower today compared to five years ago, and the party failed to become a part of the Swedish parliament in the national election.
The two traditional largest parties, the Social Democrats and the Moderate Party, have a relatively stable position in the surveys, and the Moderate Party is aiming to reoccupy their fourth seat, which they lost the previous election. The Social Democrats managed to retain the governmental power after the prolonged forming process and have the advantage of appointing the next commissioner to succeed the popular current European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström. The top candidate for the position is Ann Linde, Sweden’s current Minister for Foreign Trade, with responsibility for Nordic affairs.
Despite the election being less than two months away, there is still a lot to expect. Just because some parties are at risk now does not necessarily mean that they will be on Election Day, and vice versa.