SWEDEN: Swedes are all set to vote on Sunday in a close election pitting centre-left Social Democrats against a right-wing bloc that has embraced anti-immigration Sweden Democrats in a bid to regain popular support after eight years in the ‘opposition.
Swedish polls this year have been highly volatile, influenced by a variety of pressing and relevant issues affecting anxious Swedes. The steady growth in the number of shootings, the raging war on gang crime and violence, topped by runaway inflation, and the energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine have all taken center stage in this election. .
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Although law and order is the right-wing’s favorite domain, the deepening economic crisis as households and businesses face sky-high prices could become a supportive campaign agenda for the Social Democrats. . Their representative and leader of the country, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, may well emerge victorious with her energy solution bid and win the popular vote this year.
“My clear message is this: during the pandemic, we have supported Swedish businesses and households. I will act the same again if I get your renewed trust,” she said this week during one of the final debates before the vote.
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Before becoming the country’s first female prime minister nearly a year ago, Andersson was finance minister, versed in the art of economics and national statistics. She enjoyed the trust of her party and the faith of her citizens to establish peace and prosperity in the nation.
This year, she appears in a formidable showdown with her main rival, moderate leader Ulf Kristersson, who sees himself as an intimidating force strong enough to unite the right and topple it from the siege.
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Kristersson left no stone unturned in his diligent efforts to establish good relations between the Swedish Democrats, an anti-immigration party with staunch white supremacists among its founders.
Initially, the bloc faced a huge backlash from all other parties for its xenophobic approach to the immigration issue, but it has now become part of the mainstream right. The growing sway of Sweden’s Democrats in national polls suggests Sweden’s political winds have shifted dramatically.
“We will prioritize law and order, making it profitable to work and build a new climate-smart nuclear power plant,” Kristersson said in a video released by his party. “Simply put, we want to sort out Sweden. Kristersson’s hard-hitting approach is therefore “Sweden first”.
Opinion polls suggest the centre-left is neck and neck with the right-wing bloc, where Sweden’s Democrats appear to have recently overtaken the Moderates as the second largest party behind the Social Democrats.
Kristersson wants to form a government with the small Christian Democrats and, possibly, the Liberals, and only count on the support of the Swedish Democrats in parliament. But these are assurances that the centre-left does not take literally.
The election is fraught with anxiety and unpredictability as Sweden’s emerging political polarization testifies to center-left and right-wing blocs facing a long and difficult consensus to form a government.
Andersson has a lot on her plate right now, as she will need to gain support from the Center and Left Party, her ideological opposite, and likely the Green Party as well if she wants a smooth second term.
“I have quite a few red linessaid Annie Loof, whose Center Party split from Kristersson over her affiliation with the Swedish Democrats, in a recent interview with SVT.
“A red line I have is that I will never pass up a government that gives influence to the Swedish Democrats.”
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