Yesterday the Swedish went to the polls for the most anticipated election in years, with the possibility of the far-right Sweden Democrats, at least according to some commentators, having a shot at being the largest party in the country. In the end the far-right party ended up a distant third, with just under 18% of the vote. However this was enough to expand their power in parliament and shape the agenda going forward. With over 99% of the votes counted, the opposition centre-right Alliance ended up with 40.3% of the vote, with the ruling centre-left Social Democrats and Greens plus their allies with 40.6% of the vote. As it stands the Social Democrats coalition would have 144 seats, the Alliance bloc 143 seats and the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats 62 seats: at the lower end of their recent polling range, however, significantly better than in 2014, when they polled 12.9% of the popular vote.
The far right polled 5.7% of the vote when it first entered parliament in 2010. Before this election the Sweden Democrats said that it was willing to collaborate with other political parties in parliament, as long as it has a say in shaping the country’s immigration policy. The party has appealed to voters who are disillusioned with the main parties, particularly when it comes to immigration, where many feel left behind in favour of hundreds of thousands of newly arrived asylum seekers. According the Sweden Democrats, the Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s Social Democrats have ‘divided society, fuelled the sense of exclusion, bled the welfare system dry’ and ‘harmed national security’. To try to head off the fears of many of the electorate, before the elections Lofven vowed that if re-elected, he will pursue ‘a migration policy that holds up in the long term, and that has the backing of the Swedish people’.
Although the Prime Minister seems to have taken some of the sting out the Sweden Democrats campaign, with the centre left and centre right blocs in a near dead heat, negotiations to form a government are likely to be long and difficult.
As many regular readers will know, Sweden is a country we see as ‘investable’ as it is a highly rated four star country on our NFA scoring system. However, although we have Sweden on our radar we do not hold any credits in the country at the moment as we struggle to find value in current pricing.