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Why these elections are all the more exciting for Sweden

Martin Reck

DESPITE THIS BEING one of the most important years in Swedish political history, it seems as though students and the younger generation might not be that interested in voicing their opinion. A recent survey shows that only 40.7 per cent of Swedes born in the 1990’s will take part in the upcoming European Union parliamentary elections on 25 May.

This is a significant drop from the previous election — in 2009 — where the youngest demographic was one of the most dedicated and active groups. But the predicted participation in the election is overall very low, with around half of the voting eligible population predicted to hit the ballots in two weeks’ time.

The results are still fascinating as it points to a distinct lack of interest in what is going on at European level. Sweden will have its second election of 2014 in September, when the people are set to vote on the Swedish government. This has made newspapers dub 2014 the ‘Super Election Year’, but with such low interest it might not be as ‘Super’ as the media expects.

One of the most eye-catching stories of the 2014 election year is the potential rise of Sweden’s most controversial political party — the Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna). Labelled as racist, hostile to immigrants and against basic human rights, the party has invested great effort in achieving a strong showing at the upcoming European election. Party leader Jimmie Åkesson is currently on a country-wide tour in an attempt to gain as many voters as possible, despite not being a candidate for the election himself.

The other major Swedish parties currently in government have focused less on their campaigning for the European Parliamentary election, with more long-term approach to trying to secure a win in the upcoming governmental election. No matter what the result, the Swedish contingent in Europe will see quite a large upheaval. The Swedish Pirate Party is the party most likely to slip out of Europe, mainly due to the lack of presence in the national government. The Swedish Democrats are likely to gain two spots – which has been the aim they have declared publicly in the run up to the election.

Curveballs are always likely to happen when there is a European Parliamentary election in Sweden. In 2004, the newly formed June List party achieved a whopping 14 per cent of the votes, coming out of nowhere and catching everyone off guard. With the Pirate Party attaining 7.1 per cent of the votes in 2009, it saw the June List drop out, and themselves taking their place as the only non-governmental party representing Sweden. This time it is the left-oriented Feminist Initiative (F!) looking to cause a surprise  as a non-governmental party – battling it out with the Swedish Democrats and the Pirate Party for seats in Europe.

Only a handful of Swedish political parties can expect a seat in Europe, with some of the fringe parties from previous years fighting tooth and nail to keep their seats. According to the latest figures, published in a SIFO survey, the Center Party (Centerpartiet) and the Christian Democrats (Kristdemokraterna) are the two established European Parliament parties most likely to be battling for spots with the Swedish Democrats and the Feminist Initiative. The Social Democrats, historically Sweden’s largest party, looks to gain the highest number of seats with an estimated 31.2 per cent of the votes. The current leading government party Moderaterna comes in at 21.7 per cent, keeping the status quo with their main rivals, the Social Democrats.

However for the average Swede, the Parliamentary election is merely an indication of which side of the political spectrum will be in charge come September. No matter the results – Sweden will be in for an exciting May 25th.

Words: Niklas Jakobsson

Photo: Daniel Reck

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