Which Parties Are Running?
There are many political parties in Sweden, both national and local. Around 200 are registered.
At the last election only 7 parties exceeded the 4 percent vote threshold for representation in parliament. These are:
The Social Democrats are Sweden’s largest party, with support from around 4 out of 10 voters. The party has governed Sweden during virtually the entire period from the 1930’s to today, with the exception of 1976-1982 and 1991-1994. The party stands for a third way between market capitalism and Communism, a welfare state where the market economy functions relatively freely but several areas, such as education and healthcare, are the responsibility of the public sector.
The Left Party was previously the Communist Party, which had its best years in the 1940’s and 50’s. The party has tried to leave behind its Communist past, and today has the support of around 8 percent of voters.
The Left wants less of the market and favors a more planned economy, but in recent years has also focused on environmental and women’s issues. The party supports the Social Democratic government, but does not hold any cabinet posts.
The Environment, or Green, Party entered parliament in 1994 and since then has had an influence on the government’s environment policies. The party only has the support of around 5 percent of voters, but has a key roll as the balance of power in parliament.
In recent years the Greens have worked with the government. The party’s goal is an environmentally sustainable society, including high taxes and fees for environmentally harmful activities.
The Conservatives are a right wing party which has moved from a traditional conservative position to market liberalism. The party supports free enterprise, low taxes, and less state intervention in the economy.
In recent years the Conservatives have moderated their demands for restrictions on the power of trade unions and the removal of labor legislation which supports security over flexibility in firing.
The Liberals often express pride in the victory of Liberalism in the global struggle against Communism and conservatism. The Swedish Liberals have for many years had relatively little support among voters, but the party made significant gains in the 2002 elections, reaching 13 percent support.
In recent years the party has adopted a more conservative position, with demands for more discipline in schools and a harder position towards immigrants.
The Christian Democrats are an explicitly social conservative party, which wants to combine market liberalism with a state that supports the weakest in society. The party’s key issue is traditional family values, and it has opposed marriage for homosexuals. The party’s breakthrough was in the 1998 election, when it received 11 percent of the vote.
But support has diminished since the extremely popular Alf Svensson retired as party leader in 2004.
The Center Party is the successor to the Farmer’s League, which primarily defended the interests of farmers. The party’s days of glory were the 1970’s, when it led several center-right governments. Voter support has dropped significantly in recent years, however. The party’s central issues are decentralization, regional development, and a society as close to the citizens as possible. The environment is also a key issue.
Several new parties hope to enter parliament this year. The most popular seem to be the Feminist Initiative and the June List.
The Feminist Initiative wants more equality between the sexes, and wants to dismantle the patriarchy which the party says permeates society. The party is led by former Left Party leader Gudrun Schyman.
The June List was formed before the election to the EU parliament in 2004. This Euro sceptic party received a surprising 14 percent of the vote in that election. The June List opposes more power being transferred from Sweden to Brussels, and advocates a system with more referendums.
On the local level there are more parties. The two largest, with seats on several county councils, are the Healthcare Party and the Senior Citizen Interest Party. The xenophobic Sweden Democrat Party, which received several seats on municipal councils in the last election, now has hopes of winning representation in parliament.
This party is represented in several counties. The party’s main issue is better healthcare. A recent attempt to launch the party nationwide to take part in the parliamentary elections failed.
Senior Citizen Interest Party
Local senior citizens parties have been elected to several county councils. The party’s key issue is a dignified old age and the protection of pensioners’ interests. The party also wants fair representation for older people in political bodies.
The Sweden Democrats are a xenophobic party with an anti-immigrant platform. In its first serious attempt to gain representation in parliament in 2002, the party received around 75,000 votes. The Sweden Democrats want to reduce immigration and dismantle the European Union.
Parliamentary Election results 2002 Percent Seats
Social Democrats 39.8% 144
Moderates 15.2% 55
Liberals 13.3% 48
Christian Democrats 9.1% 33
Left Party 8.3% 30*
Center Party 6.1% 22
Greens 4.6% 17
Others 2.8% 0
* The Left Party currently holds 28 seats as two MPs have left the party since the 2002
Anyone can form a party in Sweden and take part in elections. Registration isn’t even required, as ballots can be printed privately. In the last election there were around 30 such parties which received between 1 and 10 votes each. Here are a few examples:
Donald Duck Party 10 votes
The Party of Love 8
The Singles Party 3
Cloning No, I am a unique person party 3
Viking Party, Sweden Out of the EU 2
Dog Party 2
Santa Claus Party 1
Boiled Frog Party 1
Football Party 1