Swedish Election

Since there is so much crap written in English about the Swedish election I thought I’d do a post on it ending with Grodaeu estimates of propabilities for the most likely outcomes

Election System It works like this. You count the votes. Then the parties get a number of seats in parliament proportional to how many votes they get. There is one exception to this. You need 4% of total votes to enter parliament. This will become important later. An important consequence of the system is that no one is going to “win”. You can’t really.


  • Immigration: Contrary to popular belief Sweden never had open borders. There was however a large amount of refugees arriving in 2015 (last four years foreign born population in Sweden increased from 15.9% to 18.5% mainly due to the Syrian born population increasing from 0.4% to 1.7%). After this asylum rules were tightened. Some want to reverse this and some want to tighten further.
  • Schools: Sweden has experimented with probably the worlds most permissive charter school system. The results have been shit (although with some recovery last years).
  • Healthcare: The system is performing well in international studies but it’s operating quite close to full capacity so sometimes things don’t work out well. No one is entirely clear on what to do so there is no obvious political conflict.
  • Environment: This debate is largely on how to limit CO2. There have been some minor moves here, most notably an airflight tax.
  • Crime: For some reason this receive massive attention internationally but barely makes it into top 5 issues when voters rank them but anyway. Some (almost all) want more police, some stress social issues, some want to blame immigrants.
  • Taxes: No one seems to really care. They are high though. Some want them lower.
  • Economy: The economy is fine. The government tries to run on this and the opposition tries to say there is a looming disaster.
  • Austerity: Almost complete agreement that running massive budget surpluses indefintely is a good idea. Some BDSM thing or something. Anyway. Not an election issue.
  • EU: No one cares.
  • Foreign policy: No one cares.

Parties Listed by result in 2014 election

  • Social Demokraterna (S): Big tent leftist party. Don’t do anything dramatic. Current government party.
  • Moderaterna (M): Used to be big tent rightist party. Lately they have moved further to the anti immigrant right and opened to cooperating with the far right.
  • Sverigedemokraterna (SD): Far right racist party. Only party running on leaving EU.
  • Miljöpartiet (MP): Leftist environmental party. In government currently.
  • Centerpartiet (C): Neoliberals. Free market party on the right with positive attitude to immigration. Historically have cooperated both with right and left.
  • Vänsterpartiet (V): Far left party. Lately focused mainly on opposing charter schools and a positive attitude to immigration.
  • Liberalerna (L): Neoliberals. Same as C but more negative to immigration. Love charter schools.
  • Kristdemokraterna (KD): Christian party on the right. Same as M but Christians.
  • A number of smaller parties are also running. Unlikely any of them will enter parliament. The most notable are: Feminist party, Pirate party, MED (SD but a bit more racist), AfS (SD but a lot more racist)

Government Currently the government is a S+MP minority government supported by V. Before that there was a M+L+C+KD minority government. The way the system works you can have a reasonably stable minority government if there is no bigger group of parties opposing you.


Below are the latest poll of polls compared to the election result in 2014. It looks like Left Party (V), Center (C) and Sweden Democrats (SD) will gain while the two big parties (S and M) will lose. There is a theory that SD always outperforms polls since they did so in 2014 (but not in 2010) but a theory with two data points of which one supports your argument is dodgy at best.

Things to keep an eye on

  • Which parties make it into parliament: Three parties (KD, L; MP) risk dropping  out. The Grodaeu probabilities are: KD 60%, MP 10%, L 10%. KD is on the right so this weakens the probability for a win for the right.
  • Which is biggest of M+C+L+KD or V+MP+S. If the former, the right will just govern. If the latter the question is, will the right accept this? In principle they could ally with SD and govern (unless V+S+MP>M+C+L+KD+SD which seems unlikely). A strong showing from M would make this more likely.

The Grodaeu result probabilities

These are my guesses for possible coalitions and how likely they are. They are no necessarily parties in government, but alliances. For instance SD will not end up in government, but M and KD could form a government that needs them and lets them affect policy.

  • S+V+MP majority government [6%] → Charter schools will be limited. Probably some minor tax increases and increased benefits.. Immigration policies more or less unchanged or perhaps a bit more permissive.
  • S+V+MP minority government [35%] → No change.
  • S+L+C+(possibly MP) [8%] → No change. Maybe a minor tax cut to please the right
  • L+C [5%] → Fragile minority. Would have trouble getting much done so few changes.
  • M+L+C+KD minority government [28%] → Would have trouble getting stuff done so no dramatic changes. Maybe a tax cut or two.
  • M+L+C+KD majority government [3%]→ Lower taxes. Maybe a benefit cut or two. Nothing dramatic.
  • M+L+C+KD+SD [10%]→ Lower taxes and moves to limit immigration.
  • M+KD+SD [5%]→ Most extreme result. Still no Trump/Italy style revolution and no Swexit referendum but much more restrictive immigration policy and probably more obstruction in EU. Something like the current Danish/Austrian government.

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