- Swedish general election, 2010
Swedish general election, 2010 2006 ← 19 September → 2014 All 349 seats to the Riksdag First party Second party Third party Leader Mona Sahlin Fredrik Reinfeldt Peter Eriksson
Party Social Democrats Moderate Party Green Party Alliance Red-Greens The Alliance Red-Greens Last election 130 97 19 Seats won 112 107 25 Seat change 18 10 6 Popular vote 1,827,497 1,791,766 437,435 Percentage 30.66% 30.06% 7.34% Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party Leader Jan Björklund Maud Olofsson Jimmie Åkesson Party Liberal Party Centre Party Sweden Democrats Alliance The Alliance The Alliance Independent Last election 28 29 0 Seats won 24 23 20 Seat change 4 6 20 Popular vote 420,524 390,804 339,610 Percentage 7.06% 6.56% 5.70% Seventh party Eighth party Leader Lars Ohly Göran Hägglund Party Left Party Christian Democrats Alliance Red-Greens The Alliance Last election 22 24 Seats won 19 19 Seat change 3 5 Popular vote 334,053 333,696 Percentage 5.60% 5.60%
Prime Minister before election
A general election to the Riksdag, parliament of Sweden, was held on 19 September 2010. The main contenders of the election were the governing centre-right coalition the Alliance (consisting of the Moderate Party, the Centre Party, the Liberal People's Party and the Christian Democrats) and the oppositional centre-left Red-Greens coalition (consisting of the Social Democrats, the Left Party and the Green Party).
The final results showed the Alliance getting 49.27 percent of the votes (an increase by 1.03 pp from the previous election) and 173 seats in the parliament (a decrease by 5 seats and 2 short of an overall majority), while the Red-Greens received 43.60 percent (a decrease by 2.48 pp) and 156 seats (a decrease by 15 seats). The election also saw the nationalist Sweden Democrats entering parliament for the first time, as the sixth largest and only non-aligned of the eight parties elected to the parliament, by receiving 5.70 percent of the votes (an increase by 2.77 pp) and 20 seats.
The results meant the Alliance lost its absolute majority in the parliament but continued to govern as a minority government. The new parliament held its opening session on 5 October, with Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt presenting the annual government policy statement as well as some changes to his cabinet.
The election was the first time in almost a century that a Swedish centre-right government that had served a full term was re-elected.
The Sweden Democrats (SD) stated that it wished to cut political asylum and family reunification immigration by 90 percent. The SD leader Jimmie Åkesson wrote, in an opinion piece for the social-democratic tabloid Aftonbladet that the growth of the country's Muslim population "is the greatest foreign threat to Sweden since the Second World War."
Both parliamentary blocs pledged not to seek support from the SD. The two regarded SD as xenophobic and of holding views that are incompatible with commonly held notions about the equality of persons regardless of their national origin or ethnicity or religion.
The parties already represented in the Swedish parliament, along with the Swedish television networks, have excluded minor parties from the televised political debates. The excluded minor parties include the Sweden Democrats and also the June List, the Feminist Initiative, and the Pirate Party).
After the election in September 2006, the government slipped well behind the red-green opposition in the polls. A Sifo poll conducted in February 2008 showed the three opposition parties leading over the government with 19.4 percentage points. However, this lead steadily eroded during the second half of the government's term, even despite the opposition joining its forces against the ruling Alliance in a Red-Green co-operation in December 2008.
The Sweden Democrats were expected to enter the Parliament for the first time, as the party's polling results had exceeded the 4% entry threshold since June 2009. The Green Party had also made a significant transformation from the smallest elected party to the third largest party during the term, overtaking the Left Party, the Christian Democrats, the Liberals and even the Centre Party in most polls following the 2006 election.
Ostracism of Sweden Democrats
There was controversy between the parties represented in parliament and other parties on the ballot, notably the Sweden Democrats. Both parliamentary blocs pledged not to seek support from the SD. Reinfeldt ruled out forming a government in cooperation with the Sweden Democrats.
A privately owned television network, TV4, refused to air a SD campaign video, which was then uploaded to YouTube and viewed more than 600,000 times. The SD video portrayed a track-meet, in which the race is for pension funds. In the video, a Swedish pensioner is out-run by burka-clad women with prams.
Several politicians in Denmark, initially from the Danish People's Party, but also followed by the governing Venstre and the Conservative People's Party, reacted to the TV4 decision by calling for international election observers to be sent to Sweden. The Danish People's Party leader Pia Kjærsgaard claimed that the election reminded her of "Eastern Europe," and that Sweden was the "banana republic" of the Nordic countries. Per-Willy Amundsen of the Norwegian Progress Party also criticised the decision as a "violation of democratic rules."
The Sweden Democrats have had their rallies disrupted by political activists associated with left-wing and anti-racist movements. Some SD party members were threatened. For many years, the party's meetings had been disrupted by demonstrations by left-wing groups such as Anti-Fascist Action and other opposing groups.
On 13 September in Gothenburg, about 500 counter-demonstrators prevented the Sweden Democrats from making a planned election rally. Police used pepper spray to disperse the counter-demonstration, which lacked a permit, and seven people were detained. On 14 September, the Sweden Democrats cancelled planned rallies in three cities, Eskilstuna, Karlstad, and Uddevalla, because of security concerns. Similarly, concerns about security led to an election tour being cancelled on 15 September in Norrköping.
After these cancelled election rallies, the National Police Commissioner Bengt Svenson severely criticized the county police for failing to safeguard the Sweden Democrats: "It is not possible to implement them [in those locales], so the police have failed in its planning and execution of its mission. [ . . . ] It is a serious problem when such meetings cannot be held, because it is our absolute duty to ensure that the constitutionally guaranteed rights be maintained and that all meetings can be held".
Similarly, Hanne Kjöller of Dagens Nyheter hypothesised that the attacks strengthened the Sweden Democrats rather than hurting the party's support base. "Jimmie Åkesson becomes a poor underdog and the picture of a party that is holding some dangerous but important truth is enhanced. The Sweden Democrats should send flowers to the left-wing extremists, thanking them for the publicity."
Municipal elections and National Socialism
The result of local elections held on the same day angered anti-nationalist and anti-fascist groups as the ethnic nationalist and openly racist Party of the Swedes gained 102 votes (2.8%) in Grästorp Municipality and subsequently won a seat in its municipal council. The result saw the first endorsement of an openly National Socialist party to an elected office in Sweden since World War II.
As exit polls conducted by the national broadcaster Swedish Television predicted, the Sweden Democrats reached the 4% threshold to enter parliament for the first time.
A preliminary count of 5,668 voting districts showed the Alliance of Fredrik Reinfeld ahead of the Red-Greens, with 172 seats. This, however, fell short of the 175 seats needed for an absolute majority and the Sweden Democrats would apparently be holding the balance of power in the new parliament. Reinfeld declared that he had no intention to cooperate with the Sweden Democrats.
On 23 September, the final results showed the Centre Party gaining an adjustment seat in Dalarna, giving the Alliance a total seat count of 173, still two seats short of an absolute majority. The Alliance's Liberal People's Party ended up only 7 and 19 votes short from gaining additional seats in Gothenburg and Värmland respectively, but according to Svante Linusson, a mathematician and former politician for the Stockholm Party, the actual margin was still over 800 votes.
Parliament of Sweden election resultsSummary of the 19 September 2010 Parties and coalitions Votes Permanent seats Adjustment seats Total seats seats %/votes % # ± % ±% # ± # ± seats swing Swedish Social Democratic Party
1,827,497 115,128 30.66 4.33 112 18 0 0 112 18 1.05 Moderate Party
1,791,766 335,752 30.06 3.83 107 10 0 0 107 10 1.02 Green Party
Miljöpartiet de Gröna
437,435 146,314 7.34 2.09 19 10 6 4 25 6 0.98 Liberal People's Party
420,524 2,129 7.06 0.48 17 5 7 1 24 4 0.97 Centre Party
390,804 46,585 6.56 1.32 21 6 2 0 23 6 1.01 Sweden Democrats
339,610 177,147 5.70 2.77 14 14 6 6 20 20 1.01 Left Party
334,053 9,331 5.60 0.24 9 4 10 1 19 3 0.97 Christian Democrats
333,696 32,302 5.60 0.99 11 6 8 1 19 5 0.97 Pirate Party
38,491 3,573 0.65 0.02 0 - 0 - 0 - 0.00 Feminist Initiative
24,139 13,815 0.40 0.28 0 - 0 - 0 - 0.00 Swedish Senior Citizen Interest Party
Sveriges pensionärers intresseparti
11,078 17,728 0.19 0.33 0 - 0 - 0 - 0.00 Rural Democrats
1,565 1,565 0.03 0.03 0 - 0 - 0 - 0.00 Socialist Justice Party
1,507 410 0.03 0.01 0 - 0 - 0 - 0.00 Norrland Coalition Party
1,456 1,456 0.02 0.02 0 - 0 - 0 - 0.00 National Democrats
1,141 1,923 0.02 0.04 0 - 0 - 0 - 0.00 Classical Liberal Party
Klassiskt Liberala Partiet
716 514 0.01 0.01 0 - 0 - 0 - 0.00 Freedom Party
688 688 0.01 0.01 0 - 0 - 0 - 0.00 Party of the Swedes
681 681 0.01 0.01 0 - 0 - 0 - 0.00 Unity
632 2,016 0.01 0.04 0 - 0 - 0 - 0.00 Parties with less than 500 votes 2,929 1,837 0.05 0.03 - - - - - - 0.00 The Alliance
(Moderate Party, Liberal People's Party,
Centre Party, Christian Democrats)
2,936,790 258,994 49.27 1.03 156 3 17 2 173 5 1.01 Red-Greens
(Social Democrats, Green Party, Left Party)
2,598,985 40,517 43.60 2.48 140 11 16 4 156 15 1.03 All parties total 5,960,408 409,130 100.00% - 310 - 39 - 349 - - Blank votes 65,938 32,494 1.09 0.62 Other invalid votes 2,336 120 0.04 0.00 Eligible voters 7,123,651 231,642 Turnout 6,028,682 378,266 84.63% 2.64
On the day after the election, anti-Sweden Democrat rallies took place in a number of Swedish cities. Reports indicated that 10,000 people were estimated to have marched in Stockholm under banners reading "We are ashamed", "No racists in Parliament", and "Refugees – welcome!". In Gothenburg, 5,000 people took part in a "sorrow march against racism", and 2,000 people marched in Malmö. Support for the Sweden Democrats was strongest in the southernmost province Scania, where the party received about 10% percent of the vote, and in the neighbouring province Blekinge, where they received 9.8 percent; the foreign media quoted "some people" from further north of the country as calling for Scania to be handed back to Denmark, where the Danish People's Party were seen as an inspiration for the SD.
Liberal evening tabloid Expressen wrote in an editorial "The banner of tolerance has been hauled down and the forces of darkness have finally also taken the Swedish democracy as hostage. It's a day of sorrow." Liberal conservative morning newspaper Svenska Dagbladet said "[It is] time for the Swedes to get themselves a new national self-image [as the election] created a new picture of Sweden".
Kingdom of Sweden
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"While it’s hard to say that Sweden has woken up to a new self-image, one can say that this is more like a normal European situation and is similar to other western European countries with a proportional election system, where a populist right-wing party has seats in parliament. It’s the party that is the least liked among other voters, so it is not surprising that people have reacted with dismay". Carl Dahlstroem, professor of politics at Gothenburg University.
The election was a landmark for its impact on the Social Democrats, which had been in government for 65 of the last 78 years and who have never lost two consecutive elections. This was their worst result since universal suffrage in 1921. Swedish political scientist Stig-Björn Ljunggren said "The Social Democrats no longer symbolise the Swedish model. They've lost their magic." The Dagens Nyheter postulated that electoral failure was based on internal factors, such that the Social Democrats failed to win over the middle class and had completely lost touch with their original vision which had made them a dominant political party. An attempt to blame external factors for their electoral failure was seen as part of an attempt by party leaders to avoid responsibility for electoral defeat. This is based on a general pattern of nationalist politics in which different political blocs have used foreign developments to influence domestic political outcomes in Sweden.
The Irish Times saw the rise of the SD as sending "ripples of shock not only through the country but through European politics," and asked "Is this finally it for the 'Swedish model'" that has been represented as a "meld of liberal values, high taxes, outstanding childcare and welfare that made the country the poster boy for European social democracy?" The Social Democrats' failure reflected the party's inability to adapt, an increasingly technocratic profile, a failure to address immigration concerns, as well as Reinfeldt's success in managing the economy. The results draws parallels with a larger decline of European left parties. An article in Al Jazeera English asked if western political dynamics are changing following the Sweden and United States elections. It pointed out that predictions after the election indicated "an entirely new political landscape" and "the beginning of an era of sharper political division in Sweden." It asked if the similar results "reflect rather an underlying continuity in the generation-long evolution of Euro-American politics towards a fully neoliberalised system" and that Sweden seemed to be "moving towards an outdated model." However, it also added, that while social policies were simarly moving to the right, economic policies were poles apart with the emergence of far-right parties in Sweden and Denmark still supporting the welfare state and the American parties continue to be on the economic right-wing.
The case of Annika Holmqvist, a seriously ill 55-year old woman who had her sickness benefits withdrawn and was requested to seek work, allegedly due to the Alliance's reforms of Sweden's social security system, gave the opposition a late boost in its campaign. The Local thinks it might have deprived the Alliance of an overall majority. Holmqvist's daughter wrote about her case in a web log post that gained publicity and became a hot topic in the debates. In spite of promises of a solution, after the election it was decided Holmqvist will lose her illness benefits.
The Moderate Party was still seen as one of the big winners of the election because of its "well-executed campaign" that emphasised Sweden’s "remarkable political and economic stability in a turbulent world" after Sweden weathered the recession, despite mass unemployment the economic growth in 2010 was the highest in Western Europe.
The Alliance formed the new government with Reinfeldt continuing as prime minister. His cabinet has 24 ministers, three more than the previous one. The Moderates received 13 posts, an increase of three from their previous count, with the Liberals (4), Centre (4) and Christian Democrats (3) not gaining or losing ministers. Jan Bjorklund, the leader of the Liberal Party, was promoted to Deputy Prime Minister replacing Maud Olofsson. Carl Bildt stayed on as Foreign Minister and Anders Borg got an extension to his post as Minister for Finance. The new ministers are Stefan Attefall who takes the new post of Minister for Public Administration and Housing at the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, Ulf Kristersson replacing Cristina Husmark Pehrsson as Minister for Social Secuirty, Erik Ullenhag taking the new post of Minister for Integration at the Ministry of Employment, Hillevi Engström as new Minister for Employment, Anna-Karin Hatt taking the new post of Minister for Information Technology and Regional Affairs at the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications, Peter Norman replacing Mats Odell as Minister for Financial Markets and Catharina Elmsäter-Svärd replacing Åsa Torstensson as Minister for Communications. Tobias Krantz, former Minister of Higher Education at the Ministry of Education and Research, is also leaving with no successor having been named.
Reinfeldt issued a 30-page statement of the new government's policies, saying it would "seek a broad-based and responsible solutions (sic)." Which meant it would "be natural...to hold regular discussions with the Green Party, in the first instance and also the Social Democratic Party where appropriate."
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- Val 2010 from the main website, english version
- NSD: European Election Database - Sweden publishes regional level election data; allows for comparisons of election results, 1992–2010
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