Swedish general election, 2018
All 349 seats to the Riksdag
175 seats are needed for a majority
2014 budget crisis
Just two months of having formed a minority government, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced on the afternoon of 3 December 2014 that he intended to make the formal arrangements for calling an extraordinary election on 29 December 2014 – the earliest date permitted by the constitution.
The election seemed to be necessary after Löfven's Social Democrat-led government lost a vote on the budget by 182 to 153, owing to the Sweden Democrats voting with the opposition, leading to a cabinet crisis. It would have been the first early election since 1958.
However, an agreement between the Social Democrats, Greens, Moderates, Centrists, Liberals and Christian Democrats was signed on 26 December 2014, outlining a series of conditions in order to ensure political stability until at least 2022. The agreement included two main provisions:
- The candidate for Prime Minister who gathered the most support would be elected. This would apply to both incumbent and new candidates for PM.
- A government in minority would be allowed to have its budget passed, by the abstention of opposition parties who had signed the agreement.
After negotiations between the Government and the Alliance for Sweden concluded, the snap election was called off on 27 December 2014. On 9 October 2015, following the Christian Democrats' departure from the agreement, the December 2014 agreement was dissolved. However, the Moderates, Centrists and Liberals allow the Social Democrats minority government to continue to govern.
2018 gang violence
The summer of 2018 has seen a rise in violent crime in Sweden, and several incidents, including the arson of over 100 cars on 15 August have caused many Swedes to say that "law and order" is the key issue in the upcoming election. While Sweden has faced sporadic gang violence in recent years at the end of summer break for students, violence in Gothenburg, Falkenburg and Trollhattan was said to be on a larger scale. Prime Minister Lofven referred to the August violence as if it was organized "almost like a military operation".
The Social Democratic Party (S; Socialdemokraterna) is the largest political party in the Swedish Riksdag, with 113 of the 349 seats. It is the major component of the incumbent Löfven Cabinet, in which it works with the Green Party. Its current leader Stefan Löfven has been Prime Minister of Sweden since 3 October 2014, and has said he will seek a mandate to continue his Löfven Cabinet.
The Moderate Party (M; Moderaterna) is the second-largest party in the Riksdag with 84 seats. It was the largest governing party under Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt from 2006 to 2014. The party is involved alongside three other parties in the Alliance; all four will seek to return to power together. Reinfeldt resigned as party leader after eight years as Prime Minister, and was succeeded as leader by Anna Kinberg Batra on 10 January 2015. Kinberg Batra's decision as de facto leader to enter the budgetary procedure agreement with the left-of-centre cabinet saw sharp disgruntlement from some party districts. The Alliance has more MPs than the government parties, but still finds itself in opposition. Owing to her low opinion polling numbers, Kinberg Batra faced internal pressure from multiple party districts and the Moderate Youth League to resign. She announced her resignation in a morning press conference on 25 August 2017. Former prime minister and Moderate Party leader Carl Bildt was suggested as a replacement after Kinberg Batra resigned; however, despite some party districts supporting his candidacy, he declined the offer. Ultimately, Ulf Kristersson was elected to succeed Kinberg Batra as party leader, during an extra Moderate party conference on 1 October 2017.
The Sweden Democrats (SD; Sverigedemokraterna) is the third-largest party in the Riksdag with 49 seats. In the 2014 general election the party increased its number of seats by 29, becoming the third-largest party. Its leader is Jimmie Åkesson, who is the longest-serving party leader. The other Riksdag parties have repeatedly stated that they will not cooperate with the Sweden Democrats in a future government. An extra general election was called after the Sweden Democrats gave its support to the oppositional Alliance budget (see section '2014 budget crisis'). After the proposed extra election was cancelled, the party advertised itself as the 'only opposition party' and in the following months it saw a sharp rise in support (see section 'Opinion polls').
The Green Party (MP; Miljöpartiet) is the fourth-largest party in the Riksdag with 25 seats. The Green Party is the minor component of the Löfven Cabinet, alongside the Social Democrats. It is the only Swedish party to have two spokespersons, currently Gustav Fridolin (since 2011) who serves as Minister for Education, and Isabella Lövin (since 2016) who serves as Minister for International Development Cooperation. This will be the first time in Swedish history that the Green Party has had its governmental record tested at an election.
The Centre Party (C; Centerpartiet) is the fifth-largest party in the Riksdag with 22 seats. It was a part of the Reinfeldt cabinet from 2006 to 2014, and is involved in the Alliance. The Centre Party has been led by Annie Lööf since 2011. It was subject to public attempts by Löfven to become a cooperation party, but the party traditionally leans towards the Moderate policy positions and stayed within the Alliance after the 2014 election.
The Left Party (V; Vänsterpartiet) is the sixth-largest party in the Riksdag with 21 seats. Its current leader is Jonas Sjöstedt. He has said that the party seeks to participate in a future Red-Green coalition government. The Left Party did not support the Löfven Cabinet because it was not asked to participate in that cabinet following the 2014 general election, but supported its budget that was voted down on 3 December 2014. Following the budgetary agreement, the Left Party is what tips the left-of-centre minority into a larger minority than the Alliance.
The Liberals (L; Liberalerna) is the seventh-largest party in the Riksdag with 19 seats. It was a part of the Reinfeldt cabinet from 2006 to 2014, and is involved in the Alliance. The Liberals has been led by Jan Björklund since 2007; his leadership is being increasingly criticized within the party. Opinion polls in the year after the 2014 election suggested that the party was struggling to recapture its previous level of support. Having been in charge of the school system and integration of migrants, it came under a lot of criticism owing to falling school results and increased segregation in the immigrant-dominated suburbs.
The Christian Democrats (KD; Kristdemokraterna) has been led by Ebba Busch Thor since 2015. It is involved in the Alliance. According to opinion polls there is a significant risk that the Christian Democrats will fail to achieve representation in the next Riksdag. The party held on by a few tens of thousands of votes last time. The parliamentary presence of the Christian Democrats is seen as essential in order for the Alliance to be able to form a government.
Feminist Initiative (FI; Feministiskt Initiativ) is the country's ninth-largest party, and is represented in the European Parliament following the 2014 European election. The party fell somewhat short of the 4% threshold to enter the Riksdag in the 2014 general election, but still got more than 3% of the vote. Feminist Initiative, led by former Left Party leader Gudrun Schyman, aims to enter the Riksdag in 2018; according to opinion polls the party's popularity has been declining since the election, but it still comfortably polls as the largest party outside the Riksdag.
Owing to the 4% threshold, it is difficult for smaller parties to enter the Riksdag. The Pirate Party (PP; Piratpartiet) won representation in the 2009-14 European Parliament but its subsequent runs for office have been less successful. It has been mentioned in some polls as the tenth-largest party, but appears to be far from having a chance to break the threshold at a domestic level.
The Alternative for Sweden (Alternativ för Sverige) is a party with currently no representation in the Riksdag. It was formed from members expelled from the Sweden Democrats in 2015, and is led by Gustav Kasselstrand.
The Swedish Riksdag is made up of 349 MPs, and all are elected through proportional representation on multi-member party lists that are either regional (most major parties) or national (Sweden Democrats). Each of the 29 constituencies has a set number of parliamentarians that is divided through constituency results to ensure regional representation. The other MPs are then elected through a proportional balancing, to ensure that the numbers of elected MPs for the various parties accurately represent the votes of the electorate. The Swedish constitution (Regeringsformen) 1 Ch. 4 § says that the Riksdag is responsible for taxation and making laws, and 1 Ch. 6 § says that the government is held responsible to the Riksdag. This means that Sweden has parliamentarism in a constitutional monarchy—ensuring that the government is appointed by the people's representatives; the Prime Minister is therefore indirectly elected. A minimum of 4% of the national vote is required for a party to enter the Riksdag, alternatively 12% or more within a constituency.
The table below lists parties currently represented in the Riksdag.
|S||Swedish Social Democratic Party
|Social democracy||Stefan Löfven||31.0%|
113 / 349
|Liberal conservatism||Ulf Kristersson||23.3%|
84 / 349
49 / 349
|Green politics||Gustav Fridolin
25 / 349
22 / 349
21 / 349
19 / 349
|Christian democracy||Ebba Busch Thor||4.6%|
16 / 349
- "Sweden's Prime Minister calls fresh election". Retrieved 3 December 2014.
- "Veckans Affärer". Veckans affärer. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
- Sweden election called by Löfven after parliament defeat BBC News, 3 December 2014
- "Just nu: Regeringskrisen fortsätter". SvD.se. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
- Anderson, Christina. "More Than 100 Cars Burned in Mass Arson Attack in Sweden". New York Times. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
- Editorial, Reuters (14 August 2018). "Youths in Swedish towns burn and vandalize scores of cars". U.S. Reuters. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
- "Anna Kinberg Batra avgår som partiledare för Moderaterna". Aftonbladet. Retrieved 2017-08-26.
- "Carl Bildts besked om partiledarfrågan: Inte intresserad". Aftonbladet. Retrieved 2017-10-02.
- "Ulf Kristersson vill göra upp med S om invandringen - DN.SE". DN.SE (in Swedish). 2017-10-01. Retrieved 2017-10-02.