A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Election News from Sweden

Social Democrat spiritual homeland Sweden faces a general election on 17 September.

For those of you who don't follow Nordic politics in detail, this is going to be the most tightly fought contest in many years for two reasons:

- critcism of the government over its handling of the impact of the Asian Tsunami disaster on Swedish tourists
- the "Dave Cameron" style regeneration of the main right-wing party, the Moderates, under their new leader Frederick Reinfeldt http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Reinfeldt Reinfeldt is busy triangulating like mad, trying to steal as many Social Democrat policies as he can.

My sources in the Swedish Social Democrats were intrigued by their leftwing colleague Peter Gustavvson's comments on this blog (http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=28811162&postID=115522368867976644) that "in the Swedish Social Democrats we see the talk of swing voters deciding elections as a theoretical assumption at best".

They are saying:

"Far from this being the case we have a campaign pledge to freeze the level of taxation on houses which is directed at middle class, urban, swing voters. Link:

The opinion polls say it's a close race but we are behind 2-3 percent at the moment. It's too close to make any projections yet."

(sorry the linked document is in Swedish but hopefully it will persuade any Swedish floating voters reading this to stick with the Social Democrats).

More info on the Social Democrats' policies is in English here: http://www.socialdemokraterna.se/Templates/Page____45435.aspx

Previous election results are here: http://www.parties-and-elections.de/sweden.html - to understand these you need to view the Moderates, Liberal People's Party, Christian Democrats and Centre Party as an alternative (though bickering) bloc to the single party of the Social Democrats - in Sweden they are charmingly known as the "Bourgeois Bloc" (which is how I think of our 4 party opposition in Hackney - the Tories, LDs, Greens & Respect).

More updates from Sweden to follow... and fingers crossed for 4 more years for Göran Persson.


Blogger El Tom said...

Many of us in the young fabians are going to help out. I'd love to too, but I have to work.

I wonder if any of them speak Swedish...

2:49 pm, August 15, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Almost everyone in Sweden speaks English so it shouldn't be a handicap. Also campaigning quite often takes the form of street stalls (with little chalets/sheds given the inclement climate) where it would be quite OK to have a "here is our international comrade come to show us solidarity" person as part of the line up, as opposed to our door-to-door approach.

3:02 pm, August 15, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello there,

firstly, a quick recollection of my first Swedish general election (2002) when I was pleasantly surprised to find that faced with a bourgeios resurgence in the opinion polls the Social Democrats made a distinct swing to the left in the last phase of the campaign. Not something Blair would have done in a similar situation. Swing voters haven't historically been terribly important in Swedish politics in that they mainly cancel each other out, that is those that move between socialist and bourgeois blocks. Swings are important, on the other hand, within blocks: so the social democrats gained at the expense of my own party, the lefties, in 2002 (perhaps due to the left swing noted above). But the positions of the two blocks barely moved between 1998 and 2002.

Secondly, something we can all be pleased about. Reinfeldt (the Swedish Cameron) has today made a real own goal by suggesting that their plans to abolish the property tax (mentioned in the main post)could be paid for by reducing mortgage interest rate relief! Thus altering one of their few proposals that would have benefited me personally, financially at any rate, to one that will most likely increase my taxes!

3:52 pm, August 15, 2006

Blogger Welsh Spin said...

Not a bad summary of the position.

I visited Sweden in April and also last September. Anecdotally the feeling I picked up was that the SD's were percieved as tired and lacking answers to the problems facing the Swedish economy (which didn't look in too bad shape IMHO).

The comparison that the folks I talked to made to me was of Reinfeldt as a Swedish Blair. On the other hand, even among those people who I spoke to who identified with the Right, their enthusiasm was less than total and there was a clear concern that a Right victory would lead to a fiasco similar to that in the early 90's.

There can be little doubt that the SD's have been weakened by the assasination of Anna Lindh robbing the party of the figurehead of it's 'modernising' wing. Reliance on the Left and Green parties in the Riksdag and 'scandals', such as the Tsunami affair have not helped, but i'm not convinced they are key factors. The Tsunami was a one off tragedy, while a right government would clearly have even more problems agreeing between it's constituent parties than the left. The SD's have in fact played pretty hardball with their Left/Green allies by excluding them and choosing to govern as a minority administration.

I too hope that Persson remains PM and I agree it's going to be mighty close. I expect turnout to be critical. If it drops below the high 70 per cents then I fear the Social Democrats will be in trouble ...

4:28 pm, August 15, 2006

Anonymous Jon Worth said...

We're trying to work out the best way to organise the campaigning at the moment - I'm organising the visit together with Mark Rusling of the Young Fabians, after having helped coordinate a visit of Swedish social democrats to London for the 2005 general election. Luke's point is right - there tends to be less door-knocking and more activities on the street.

I'll do my best to write my observations of the election at my blog as I'll also be in Sweden for a few days at the end of August as well as in September.

Other sources worth a look (in English) are Eric Sundstrom's blog and The Local, although the latter tends to take quite a reactionary perspective.

As for what will happen: both sides seem incapable of gaining a decisive advantage at the moment. The right wing alliance is squabbling about all sorts of things, and Social Democrats can't manage to shake off the problem that Persson looks like a tarnished leader past his best. It will be close for sure.

4:31 pm, August 15, 2006

Anonymous Sue Smith said...

Reinfeldt is busy triangulating like mad, trying to steal as many Social Democrat policies as he can.

Nicking the other party's policies in order to pull the ground from under them reminds me of someone, but I can't quite put my finger on the chap (probably because I'm in Hackney and he's in Barbados).

10:15 pm, August 15, 2006


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