Swedish Embassy Analyzes Election Results
The Swedish Embassy discusses this weekend’s election with expertsSeptember 14th, 2022
On Sunday the 11th of September, general elections were held in Sweden. 83% of the population cast their vote, representing a relatively high proportion compared to other states in Europe.
On Monday, the 12th of September, the Swedish Embassy invited two experts; firstly, Professor Lisa Dellmuth from Stockholm University, who teaches International Studies, and secondly, Lovisa Herold, German correspondent from the prominent journal “Dagens Nyheter”. The discussion was led by Celina Gleisner of the Swedish Embassy.
Firstly, the participating speakers provided an overview of the Swedish political system and the election results. Sweden is a parliamentary Democracy and thus a central state. For a long time, there were 7 parties represented in the parliament, but since 2010, an eighth party has been present as well; the far-right party Sweden-Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna). In fact, this party is one of the big winners of this election, having become the second largest party after the Social Democrats.
Secondly, there is an almost exact balance between the left and the right. The question of who will be invited to form a government, therefore remains unclear. This will now be an interesting process, as the presently governing Social Democrats may have to rekindle with their partnering parties on the left and in the centre, or even leave the decision to one of the bigger parties on the right.
Notably, journalist Lovisa Herold comments that the founders of the Sweden-Democrats had connections to Neo-Nazis. Keeping the importance of cultural exchange in mind, as well as a Europe with toleration against all peoples and with a strong consciousness of its own history, I find this deeply alarming. This might also be an explanation for the high election turnout, as many minorities feel threatened by the rising far-right.
Thirdly, the experts discussed the role of the Swedish people. Interestingly, an astonishing 37% were still undecided on election day. Hence, the parties in the political centre were fighting for the unsure people’s votes. Meanwhile, voters from the far-left and far-right were surer in their choice. Professor Dellmuth comments on this, saying that the election played strongly on emotions. Journalist Herold adds that the most important questions were migration, criminality, and rising energy prizes.
So, what kind of discourse was created to gain voters? According to Dellmuth, the general discourse played largely on nationalistic values. Even the far-left, otherwise weary of nationalistic expressions, spoke about “Swedish” solutions for the country. Moreover, she adds that the topic of security was widely discussed – even to a higher degree than was necessary. For instance, a recent shooting was often used as an example. In fact, the right, as well as the Social Democrats, wish to limit the immigration to the Nordic country. This may in its own turn affect the culture in Sweden, as well as its image abroad as a welcoming state. The fact is that “Sweden isn’t a Bullerby-idyll anymore,” as Professor Dellmuth points out, referring to Astrid Lindgren’s beloved children’s books. Things are changing in the country that has been deeply idealized by many Germans.
In large, Herold states that foreign politics were not an important topic. But how might this election, however it will play out, influence Swedish-German relations? The experts agree that it will probably continue to be stable, as there are interests on both sides. After all, stability is favourable for everyone. On a larger scale, this election will also decide what kind of EU-leadership Sweden will have from January and onwards. Will there be a continued culture of Social Democracy or will the Right change the path of the Nordic state? Only time will tell.