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European Interview n°49

A analysis of the issues at stake in the general elections in Sweden on 19th September
Interview with Göran LENNMARKER,
Member of the Riksdag (MP),
Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee

A analysis of the issues at stake in the general elections in Sweden on 19th September
Interview with Göran LENNMARKER,
Member of the Riksdag (MP),
Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee

1)It seems that the election on 19th September will be closely run. Fundamentally what are the differences between the right and leftwing programmes in Sweden? Can differences be seen with regard to the Welfare State, immigration or with regard to the foreign policy?

The upcoming election will be a close run. The fundamental differences are competing ideologies and leadership particularly on economy and the state finances.

Briefly, the Swedish people this year will chose whether we should continue the new foundation laid by the Moderate led alliance, where the jobs and the growth of the private sector within the welfare state has gained attention, or whether Sweden should continue its old course with a state centred model, reintroducing social benefits and subsidies as the major tool in handling unemployment. The welfare state is and has always been of great importance in Swedish politics. Recent discussions are not about its existence but rather how it is managed. During this term of office, the Alliance has opened up the possibility for external actors, such as private schools and private care, to offer their services funded by public money.

Unusually, foreign policy has also some impact. The left opposition has truly taken a left turn, as communist idea's has been reintroduced. The Left Party's anti Americanism and anti militarism has gained ground in the opposition's red-green alliance.

2)With regard to Europe - in the event of victory for the left, which is traditionally less in support of the EU - might there be less commitment on Sweden's part on European issues as a result? (for example in operations outside the EU, discussions over Sweden's entry into the euro are)?

The Left and Greens are traditionally anti EU parties. Should the left opposition win the election, the Swedish contribution within the European Union would decrease considerably. At this point, the red-green alliance has not yet been able to present a thorough political platform on these matters. It is possible that a leftist government would complicate the European cooperation especially regarding issues on common military operations as well as a possible introduction of the Euro in Sweden.

3)What do you think of the results produced by the Alliance (right coalition) after four year's in office? Will the strong recovery on the part of the economy (+4.5% in 2010, +4% forecast for 2011) help towards its re-election?

In the latest polls, we can see that the Alliance so far has an advantage. It also seems that the public have a strong confidence in the government's way of handling the state finances. Among several international organizations, the IMF complemented Sweden for its way to address the financial crisis that recently swept over the world. The fact that Sweden was not affected by the crisis in such a severe manner as many of its neighbours, will likely affect the outcome. Although one should be somewhat careful putting this into consideration as many people do blame the government for their economic loss.

4)Do you think all of the Alliance parties, and notably the Centre Party and the Christian Democratic Party will rise above the 4% mark in terms of votes cast which are necessary to be represented in Parliament on 19th September next?

The upcoming election may bring surprises. Small parties tend to gain more votes in elections than polls have predicted. This has been the case for smaller centre right parties as well as the Left and the Green. The Sweden Democrat Party, an anti-immigration party, may possibly pass the four percent threshold thus enter parliament. We have, however, witnessed several changes in the voting behaviour in Sweden. Party loyalty diminishes and voters, perhaps especially the younger generation, tend to support specific issues. This is likely the case in the matter of the increased support for the Green Party. Almost 20 percent are still, to this date, not sure of what party they will cast their vote for.

5)If neither of these coalitions manages to win an absolute majority do you think a minority government will be formed? Will it be viable or will there be a grand coalition?

The Alliance has the majority in parliament but minority governments have been the rule since long. It is not unthinkable that this would be the case again if neither coalition gain full majority. Both coalitions have announced that they will not cooperate with the Sweden Democrats.

Since the left-green opposition is rather diverse, it is possible that the Green Party, who is not associated by ideology to either side, will gain influence as they will vote due to their specific interests.

6)Is the unity of the left in the face of the right, which is traditionally far more fragmented, an advantage for the left? Like Carl Bildt, Foreign Minister, do you think that a victory on the part of the Social Democrats will open the way for the former communist left into government thereby causing a divided government and a weakened Sweden? Is this a plausible scenario in your opinion?

A left-green government will likely be a rather fragmented government. We have seen the tendencies that the Green party will seek collaboration wherever their purposes are best received. The Left Party has not yet made up with its communist past, and an anti EU and anti US policy will likely collide with the ambitions of the Social Democrat Party. This will no doubt compromise the foundation Mr. Carl Bildt and others have created i.e. making Sweden a credible actor on the Foreign Policy scene.

7)Which scenario is possible do you think with regard to the Sweden Democrat Party (far right)? Does it have any chance of making its debut in Parliament? Could it find itself in the position of kingmaker if neither the Alliance nor the leftwing achieve a majority in Parliament? Would the centre-right accept to govern with their support in this case?

I believe that the answer to this question is to find imbedded in the text above.
Publishing Director: Pascale JOANNIN
ISSN 2402-614X
Available versions
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Göran Lennmarker
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