Monday, December 29, 2014

2015 Swedish election cancelled

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven
Sweden has been a well-covered topic on this blog, and for those starting anew, here is my post on the 2014 election, and here is my post on the proposed 2015 election. 

Anyway, the proposed 2015 election has been called off, after a deal between the centre-left Social Democrat-Green coalition and the centre-right Moderate-Liberal-Centre-Christian Democrat alliance to pass a budget.

In effect, it is a coalition agreement between the centre-left and centre-right. The centre-right, having more seats than the centre-left, will propose a budget. The centre-left will form government, and they will be permitted to change the budget somewhat. The centre-right will abstain on the budget. Both groups will have a common policy on pensions, military issues, and energy.This deal will last until 2022, remaining in force even after the next scheduled election in 2018. 

So, what does this mean for Sweden's future?

The coalition will be able to control Parliament, but it will come at a price. The far-right Sweden Democrats will gain significantly in the polls after an event like this. People who voted for a centre-right party thinking that they would be helping to elect a centre-right government may feel betrayed by the deal, and may respond to the centre-right's behaviour by voting for the far-right.

This idea is borne out by multiple cases. From 2005 to 2009, Germany was led by a grand coalition between Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democrats. Merkel became Chancellor, and the Social Democrats were perceived as sellouts. At the 2009 election, the Social Democrats lost 11% of the vote compared to 2005, with the Greens and Left parties gaining by about 3 points each. 

In Austria, the 2006 election was followed by a grand coalition between the centre-right Austrian People's Party and the Social Democrats. The Social Democrats got the prime ministership. When the Austrian People's Party pulled out of coalition, an election was called. At that election, both parties lost votes to the far-right, but the People's Party's losses were heavier.

In short, it is probable that the 2018 Sweden election will result in  losses for the centre-right and gains for the far-right. The current coalition will almost certainly control parliament from 2018 to 2022, but the tide of the Sweden Democrats will not be turned by this coalition, at least electorally.

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