Sweden's party landscape in upheaval

Although the Social Democrats remain the strongest party after the elections, they had their poorest results since 1911. The conservative Moderate Party also lost votes, while the far-right Sweden Democrats saw their percentage increase by 4.7 points. Commentators seek the reasons for the established parties' losses and see the outcome as a taste of what will come in the European elections.

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Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Power monopoly a thing of the past

Social democracy's years of glory in Sweden have come to an end now, Dagens Nyheter comments:

“The political centre has become narrower and is under attack from anti-liberal forces. That makes it more difficult to form majorities and govern countries. It's problematic for grand coalitions and cooperation between parliamentary groups when all the establishment parties look the same. Worst hit now are the Swedish Social Democrats, who've been used to taking decisions and setting the course for decades. Warning signals were brushed off like irritating flies. The Social Democrats need a new concept. And the days of their power monopoly are over.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Trapped by lack of vision

Der Standard explains the reasons for the crisis of social democracy in Sweden and Europe as a whole:

“What all the social democratic parties in Europe have in common is that they can no longer say what they actually stand for. Many social democratic demands of the past have long since been fulfilled. But these parties have yet to produce practical answers to the rapid changes in society. What is an original social democratic course in today's economic policy, in Europe policy, on immigration issues? Where are the counter-concepts to the neoliberal excesses? Where are the party rebels with the energy to introduce fundamental renewal?”

Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

Welfare state in crisis

For Corriere del Ticino the election results reflect social problems:

“The figures show that in the past thirty years social inequality has increased more drastically in Sweden than in other industrial countries. The middle class, once among the wealthiest in the world, has become impoverished. Despite a flourishing economy and low unemployment, budget problems and cuts, particularly in the education and health sectors, are on the agenda. At the same time the population is ageing. Sweden is traditionally a welcoming country, but the high number of immigrants that threaten to undermine the country's national and cultural identity is detrimental to this tradition.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

A foretaste of the European elections

The parliamentary election in Sweden is a foretaste of what the entire continent could face in the European elections in spring 2019, says Hospodářské noviny:

“The parties of the left and centre-right lose voters, the extremists gain voters. Above all the issue of migrants is increasingly polarising society. Whereby the Swedes wouldn't abandon people in need even now. ... In Sweden one problem in particular was apparent: 41 percent of the voters - more than ever before - switched their preferences in comparison to the last election and voted for a different party. The Swedish lesson is therefore less about how many votes populist nationalists can get, and more about how unstable the traditional European party system has become.”

Expressen (SE) /

Grand coalition the best outcome

Expressen urges the Social Democrats and the conservative Moderate party to join forces:

“Many things speak in favour of a conservative government if the alliance has a majority. It would have a better chance of being tolerated by the Sweden Democrats. But a coalition government between the Social Democrats and the Moderates would be in an even better position. ... Instead of letting the smaller parties like the Greens, the Centre party, the Liberals and the Christian Democrats dictate migration policy, the traditional governing parties should assume responsibility so we get a sustainable refugee policy and law and order is restored. In this situation the unthinkable could suddenly become politically possible.”

Delo (SI) /

Social Democrats abandoned the field to the right

The Social Democrats only have themselves to blame for their poor result, Delo finds:

“After all, through several controversial decisions they have left the political agenda almost completely in the hands of the opposition. At least during the election campaign, which was dominated by the issues of the open-border policy, the integration of immigrants and national security, or in other words the favourite topics of the far-right Sweden Democrats. The other traditional parties, which were also unable to come up with an alternative agenda that could gain any support, face the same problem. Nevertheless as the leading party the Social Democrats have the most to lose in this process.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Established parties crippled by fear

In view of events in the neighbouring countries the Social Democrats and Moderates should have known what happens when you copy the right-wing populists, writes the Tages-Anzeiger:

“You give them legitimation but you don't lure away their voters. In Sweden the Social Democrats and the Moderates are learning this painful lesson now. ... They forgot what their own voters really want: answers to the question of what Sweden's social welfare state will look like in the future as far as pensions, schools and hospitals are concerned. They don't want simple answers, they want alternatives. This is why small parties like the Left and the Centre party have done so well. Panicked by the success of the far right, the others underestimated their voters.”

The Spectator (GB) /

A rejection of liberal immigration policy

The governing Social Democrats have been punished for their migration and asylum policy, The Spectator believes:

“Stefan Lofven was the Prime Minister in 2015 who kept the borders of Sweden open to anyone from anywhere in the world who made it there. His decision has added at least 2-3 per cent to his country's population since then. He did not have to take that decision. He could have chosen to go the path of Norway or Denmark, neighbouring countries which had more prudent immigration policies and which have hardly descended into barbarism. But Lofven chose to not to walk that path. He chose to gamble with his country's future.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Europe's million dollar question

The time has come for Europe to decide whether far-right nationalists should be excluded or integrated into political life, explains Andrea Bonanni, Brussels correspondent for La Repubblica:

“On the one hand there are countries like Germany, the Netherlands or Belgium in which the traditional democratic parties reject any form of alliance with forces that do not respect the fundamental principles of European liberalism. ... In Italy, but also in Greece, Austria and Finland, by contrast, the right-wing populist, nationalist and xenophobic right has been integrated into political life in the more or less justified hope that in that way it can be kept under control. ... Will the logic of exclusion according to which some of the basic values of the European democracies are non-negotiable now assert itself, or will the logic of inclusion win out?”