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A tale of two votes

by Henry Milner

Sweden, September 14

11_DSCN0406Sweden’s election resulted in a narrow victory for the “Red-Green coalition” led by the Social Democrats over the centre-right Alliance led by the Moderate Party (conservatives). However, this victory may prove short-lived, in part because the populist Sweden Democrats (SD) hold the balance of power, having come in third with just under 13 per cent.

Red-Green promised more funding for schools and welfare and accused the Alliance, which had introduced tax cuts and social welfare reforms, of making Sweden more unequal. Sweden’s economy has done well, but that failed to convince a sufficient number of voters to give the Alliance a third term. Many felt that Sweden could afford to spend more on welfare, health care and schools, and better tackle youth unemployment. But many other voters focused on Sweden’s extremely generous refugee policy, with close to 90,000 refugees accepted this year in a country of 9 million. Only SD opposed this policy, arguing that money should instead be spent on social welfare and humanitarian aid. SD’s effective leader, Jimmie Åkesson, was able to attract votes from conservative young people in the cities, above and beyond the party’s core of supporters in smaller communities in the north and south who feel marginalized in the postmodern world. 

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About the Author

Henry Milner
Henry Milner is co-publisher of Inroads and a political scientist at the Université de Montréal.


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