Sweden Elects: A new poll and why are Swedes talking about French writers?

What's Sweden talking about this week? In The Local's Sweden Elects newsletter, editor Emma Löfgren rounds up some of the main talking points ahead of the Swedish election.

Sweden Elects: A new poll and why are Swedes talking about French writers?
Johan Pehrson's Liberals have doubled their support in just a few months, a new poll suggests. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/SvD/TT

Voting gets under way

The election is over a month away, but for some, voting has already started.

Swedish citizens living abroad have been able to vote by postal ballot since July 28th. In the last election, around 92,000 Swedes voted from abroad, either by post or at embassies.

Everyone who holds Swedish citizenship and has at some point been a registered resident of Sweden may vote in the parliamentary elections. You don’t lose that right, but you do have to make sure you re-register for the electoral roll every ten years.

Here are the key dates for everyone else:

August 18th: Voting by proxy opens in Sweden.

August 24th: Early voting opens in Sweden.

September 11th: Election Day.

September 12th: The last day for postal votes to reach the Election Authority.

Who’s in the lead?

The pollsters at SKOP have published their latest opinion poll, asking 1,000 Swedes between July 8th and 11th which political party they like the best.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

Buoyed by new leader Magdalena Andersson’s popularity, the ruling Social Democrats are looking strong at the moment, with 31.5 percent preferring the party, over three percentage units more than their 2018 election result. Although their support has dropped since April, they could with this result potentially hold on to power after the September election.

The latter is also thanks to the decent performance of the other parties on the centre-left: 10.3 percent for the Left Party and 6.2 percent for the Centre Party. The Green Party is below the four-percent threshold to get into parliament at the moment, but with 3.6 percent they’re close enough that they will likely pick up the votes they need in the end.

This means that assuming that the centre-left parties all manage to get along (which is not by any means a given!), they would together get more votes than the centre-right, at least according to this poll.

The centre-right Liberals, on the other hand, are in one way the big winners of the poll. This party was also below the threshold just a few months ago, but has more than doubled its backing since SKOP’s last poll in April, and now enjoys 6.1 percent of respondents’ support – perhaps thanks to a fresh start offered by its affable new leader Johan Pehrson.

The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats are still the third biggest party in the poll (behind the Social Democrats and the Moderates at 18.5 percent), but their 16.6 percent is almost one percentage point below their 2018 result, suggesting that they may be heading towards their first election in which they perform worse than they did in the one before.

How many Swedish politicians have criminal records?

Almost 100 parliamentary candidates have in the past decade been convicted of a criminal offence, according to a new article in the DN daily.

That’s out of more than 6,000 people running for parliament, and most of the offences are relatively petty (mainly various traffic offences, plus some minor narcotics offences and some cases of resisting arrest).

But at least 11 candidates have a record of violent crime.

Out of Sweden’s main parties, that includes two Christian Democrats, two Left Party members, one Sweden Democrat and one Moderate Party member, who all have previous assault convictions.

“The principle is that if a crime dates back in time and the sentence has been served, there must be a way back into the community,” a Christian Democrat spokesperson told DN about their internal party policy.

Marcel Proust or Michel Houellebecq?

Should a Swedish party leader have read famous French authors?

That’s what Swedes are arguing about on Twitter, after Liberal leader Johan Pehrson couldn’t remember whether or not he had read them in school (Pehrson was born in 1968 – he almost certainly didn’t read Houellebecq, who published his first novel in 1994, in school).

The seemingly random subject came up after Pehrson in another interview hailed France as a role model for “putting culture front and centre”.

It wasn’t a particularly serious debate, but it did send Proust and Houellebecq trending on Swedish Twitter, which doesn’t happen every day.

A more important piece of news from the Aftonbladet interview was that Pehrson vowed that his party will not back a government consisting of the Sweden Democrats, if that’s one of the options on the table after the election. That of course does not mean that he won’t support a centre-right coalition propped up by the Sweden Democrats in parliament – an extremely controversial issue which rearranged the allegiances in Swedish politics last year and may come to a head after the election.

Which issues do Swedes care about?

For the first time since at least the 70s, crime is top of the list of voters’ most important issues in Sweden, as The Local reported. According to the last major survey by the SOM Institute at Gothenburg University in 2021, 41 percent of respondents picked crime, followed by healthcare (33 percent), immigration and integration (31 percent), environment and climate (26 percent), and school and education (24 percent).

In a new analysis, SOM researchers write that a focus on crime is likely to benefit conservative parties. Here’s a link to the full analysis (in Swedish).

Member comments

  1. “ The French put culture at center of everything “ 🤣🤣🤣🤣
    Good gracious me !!!
    When did this guy go to France the last time ? France is just like many countries watching the same trash tv, eats the same pathetic take always and when you take a look at the Pisa results……it makes you want to weep.
    You should read the papers coming for final exams…….reminds me of a book written by a German teacher who clearly was at the end of his tether :
    Doof ……..Doofer
    Telling…..I think.

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Swedish opposition proposes ‘rapid tests for ADHD’ to cut gang crime

The Moderate Party in Stockholm has called for children in so called "vulnerable areas" to be given rapid tests for ADHD to increase treatment and cut gang crime.

Swedish opposition proposes 'rapid tests for ADHD' to cut gang crime

In a press release, the party proposed that treating more children in troubled city areas would help prevent gang crime, given that “people with ADHD diagnoses are “significantly over-represented in the country’s jails”. 

The idea is that children in so-called “vulnerable areas”, which in Sweden normally have a high majority of first and second-generation generation immigrants, will be given “simpler, voluntary tests”, which would screen for ADHD, with those suspected of having the neuropsychiatric disorder then put forward for proper evaluations to be given by a child psychiatrist. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, of ADHD treatment, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background were less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden. 

In the press release, the party said that there were “significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD within Stockholm country”, with Swedish-born children receiving diagnosis and treatment to a higher extent, and with ADHD “with the greatest probability” underdiagnosed in vulnerable areas. 

At a press conference, the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell, said that identifying children with ADHD in this areas would help fight gang crime. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” he said. 

Sweden’s climate minister Annika Strandhäll accused the Moderates of wanting to “medicate away criminality”. 

Lotta Häyrynen, editor of the trade union-backed comment site Nya Mitten, pointed out that the Moderates’s claim to want to help children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses in vulnerable areas would be more credible if they had not closed down seven child and youth psychiatry units. 

The Moderate Party MP and debater Hanif Bali complained about the opposition from left-wing commentators and politicians.

“My spontaneous guess would have been that the Left would have thought it was enormously unjust that three times so many immigrant children are not getting a diagnosis or treatment compared to pure-Swedish children,” he said. “Their hate for the Right is stronger than their care for the children. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime