On September 11, Sweden’s right-wing party won the general election after a tight race against the center-left. As of September 15, conservatives have won 176 of 349 seats in parliament, reports The New York Times. Though the Swedish Social Democratic Party obtained the largest percentage of votes, they only were able to grab 173 seats in parliament, marking an end to Sweden’s historic left-leaning control of the government.
The right-wing Sweden Democrats had a remarkable showing of 21 percent this election, becoming the second largest party in Sweden. The results reflect citizens’ increasing desires to move away from leftist policy making. Only four years ago, right-wing parties refused to cooperate with Sweden Democrats, who were criticized for being anti-immigration and neo-Nazi ties, according to BBC News . This recent election is the first time such parties have said they are ready to govern with support from the far-right, DW reports.
For many, the Sweden Democrats’ rise to power is a concerning development. Previous Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson points out that an employee from the party had once sent out an invitation inviting people to celebrate the Nazi invasion of Poland, Time writes. The party claims to have expelled white nationalist extremists, reports the Associated Press, but continues to support a strict law and order platform. A more restrictive policy on immigration, specifically, has been a major political push factor by the Sweden Democrats, despite being in opposition to the country’s prior pro-immigration stance. Many believe their rhetoric toward asylum-seekers is worrying, DW explains, as the policies are bound to only further ostracize and instigate racism toward a marginalized population.
Another key issue for voters is gang violence. Many citizens have felt a loss of security as a result of the country’s uptick in shootings, which have left 48 people dead this year from firearms. Time clarifies that the country has jumped up the list of the most crime-infested European countries, with citizens particularly worried about gang-infested neighborhoods. Reuters reports that 41 percent of Swedish voters identify crime as their biggest concern for election issues. Sweden’s Social Democrats have tried to tackle the issue by prioritizing fixing the welfare state in an attempt to stop people from joining gangs. However, opposition parties have argued that it is not enough, blaming Andersson for focusing “too much” on immigration and “too little” on integration, Time reports.
Energy prices also remained high on voter’s agendas. As a result of the war in Ukraine, Andersson explains, people have seen an increase in their electricity bills. Sweden has also seen an uptick in the cost of living, with essential food items rising in price by nearly 25 percent. The Social Democrats are committed to hydro, solar, and wind power—a policy the Sweden Democrats have heavily criticized, insulting the country’s move to close nuclear power plants. The party argues that the soaring prices from importing electricity abroad would be counteracted by the power plants.
Former Prime Minister Andersson conceded the election and announced that she would resign on September 15. The new expected Prime Minister is Ulf Kristersson, head of the center-right Moderate Party. Despite the Sweden Democrats’ political gains, the existing bloc of right-wing parties agreed to support a coalition government led by the center-right Moderate Party as opposed to one led by the Sweden Democrats, reports The New York Times. The Sweden Democrats are still expected to play an important role in the formation of the new conservative government. While the left reels from its loss, Kristersson will have to balance a government of moderate and center-right members and a far-right faction with a powerfully energized base.