Meticulous vote-counting over the course of three days was needed to decide this year’s extremely close Swedish election. But after Wednesday’s votes, it is clear that Ulf Kristersson, leader of the bourgeois party Moderates, will be allowed to try to form a government with him as prime minister.
Wednesday’s votes included postal votes from Swedes abroad, late votes and votes that had to be checked and recounted. In total, around 250,000 votes had been counted and – as expected – the election result was not changed in favor of the red-greens. The extremely even election tipped in Blue’s favor with 176 of the 349 seats in parliament against the red bloc’s 173 – completely contrary to the first election day forecasts.
Shortly after 7 p.m. on Wednesday, the Swedish Prime Minister, Magdalena Andersson, stepped out in front of the press and announced that she would request her resignation on Thursday. “It’s a narrow majority, but it is a majority,” she said at the hastily called press conference.
For Sweden, this is a great historic shift since a government has never before relied on the right-wing Sweden Democrats to support its government. The party, which is known to have Nazi roots, has always been considered an outcast in Swedish politics – until now. Now, the real work begins for Ulf Kristersson, who declared election victory after Andersson acknowledged defeat. “Thank you for the trust – now we will get Sweden in order,” he writes on Facebook.
What will, or must, a Moderaterna-led government implement in the first instance? The moderates’ biggest issue in this election campaign was a showdown with crime in Sweden. Gang crime in particular has been a growing problem in recent years, with 47 people being shot dead this year alone. In comparison, six people were killed in gang-related conflicts in Denmark last year. Ulf Kristersson says that he is looking specifically to Denmark for solutions. Other issues concern some form of electricity support for ordinary people and the business world.
Although the EU must now work together with this new and rather fragile far-right government in Sweden, the country still remains a constructive EU member and (soon) NATO member, and a good ally for the other Nordic countries. Considering the next presidency of the Council of the EU, which Sweden will take over from January, it is safe to say that both Brussels and Sweden will face an extremely interesting period.