Sweden’s general election on September 9 looks set to become the most interesting the country has had in years. Concerns over mass immigration and rampant crime are redefining the political landscape. For the first time in more than a hundred years, the Social Democrats may be dethroned as the country’s largest political party. By Swedish standards, this constitutes a political earthquake.
Concerns in Europe over crime and mass immigration have been changing the political atmosphere, from Italy to Germany. Now, these developments may finally have caught up with Sweden as well.
The Social Democrats in Sweden are not just any political party. They have shaped Swedish political and cultural life for generations. At the peak of their power, they dominated Swedish society to such an extent that the country almost resembled a one-party state. They have been the largest party in all national elections for more than a century. From the 1930s until the early 1990s, they received more than 40% of the vote. Several times during this period, they got more than 50% of the votes and held an overall majority of the seats in the Swedish Parliament (Riksdag). They received 45.2 % of the votes as late as in 1994, and 39.9 % in 2002.
In most opinion polls from mid-2018, the Social Democrats received between 22% and 28% support. If they get 24% of the votes in the 2018 general elections, this will still make them a major party – but it would also be the worst election result the Swedish Social Democratic Party has had since 1912.