“Disaster” seems to be an apt word for describing the outcome of Sunday’s general election in Sweden. With 5,660 out of 5,668 electoral districts counted the preliminary results point towards political chaos as a result of the governing centre-right coalition losing its majority, the opposing centre-left coalition also failing to win a majority and the right-wing extremists the Sweden Democrats winning 20 seats in Parliament and thus being able to tip the balance in either direction.
The so-called Alliance, made up of the conservative Moderate Party, the Centre Party, the Liberal People’s Party and the Christian Democrats, which has governed Sweden with a parliamentary majority since 2006, now seems to have won 172 seats in Parliament, thus narrowly falling short of the 175 required for a majority. While the party leaders pretend they have won the election and been re-elected (which would be the first time for right-wing Swedish government), this is actually a defeat also for them. But the defeat is even bigger for the opposition parties - the Social Democrats, the Green Party and the Left Party, collectively known as the Red-Greens - which has won 157 seats in Parliament.
Of the seven parties in the current Parliament, only the Moderates and the Greens have increased their share of the vote. With 30 % the Moderates have achieved their best result ever, but the Social Democrats narrowly remains the largest party with 30.8 % of the votes, which is their worst result in nearly 100 years.
Both the Alliance and the Red-Greens have made it clear that co-operating with the racist Sweden Democrats is absolutely out of the question. Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, the leader of the Moderate Party, had earlier announced his intention to go on leading the government if his alliance became the largest block, even without winning a renewed majority. Tonight he has invited the Greens to open talks about some sort of co-operation which can make for a parliamentary majority.
The unclear parliamentary situation may lead to several possible scenarioes. Fredrik Reinfeldt’s government may continue as a minority government, but if it is voted down in Parliament (which can only happen if both the Red-Greens and the Sweden Democrats vote against it) or Reinfeldt declares himself unable to form a new government, the Speaker of Parliament will ask Mona Sahlin, the leader of the Social Democrats and of the Red-Green coalition, to do so. It is then possible that Sahlin might try winning over the Centre Party and/or the Liberal People’s Party in order to secure a majority. If she also fails, there is a possibility that Parliament may be dissolved and a new election, something which has never happened before.
The preliminary results are:
The Social Democrats: 30.8 %, 113 seats
The Moderate Party: 30 %, 107 seats
The Green Party: 7.2 %, 25 seats
The Liberal People’s Party: 7.1 %, 24 seats
The Centre Party: 6.6 %, 22 seats
The Sweden Democrats: 5.7 %, 20 seats
The Christian Democrats: 5.6 %, 19 seats
The Left Party: 5.6 %, 19 seats
Other parties: 1.4 % combined, no seats