Switzerland will hold an election on Sunday to elect lawmakers for the 349-seat Riksdag as well as local offices across the country of 10 million people. Early voting began on August 24. Here are some key things to know about the vote.
Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson is struggling to keep her centre-left Social Democrats at the top of the left-wing coalition but is facing a strong challenge from the right.
Sweden is known as a cradle-to-grave welfare society, and Andersson wanted to maintain the social protections long established in Sweden, while reversing some of the government’s market-oriented changes. previous government. Her party feels that some changes, like state subsidies to private schools, are creating greater inequality.
The once powerful Social Democrats have been in power since 2014. But as the party’s popularity has waned, it has presided over a weak government that relies more on other parties to pass legislation. , creating political instability in the past eight years.
There are two main blocks: one with four sides on the left and another with four on the right. Polls leading up to the election say it’s unpredictable.
“It’s basically a coin toss. It’s 50-50 between two different parties,” Zeth Isaksson, a sociologist of electoral behavior at Stockholm University, said Saturday.
Under Swedish law, the party that wins the most seats forms the next government. Polls suggest it is likely Andersson’s party will need to forge a coalition with other parties.
But if the left overall has a poor performance, she may not be able to form an alliance. In that case, the baton would be passed on to the second largest party to try to form a government.
Which side is in second place?
In the last election in 2018, the Moderate Party led by Ulf Kristersson, a centre-right party, won the second highest number of seats. Conservatives promote a market economy, tax breaks and a smaller role for government in a country with a generous welfare state backed by high taxes.
But like the Social Democrats and other mainstream parties across Europe, the moderates have also seen their popularity decline amid a populist challenge from the far right. .
WHO IS THE POPULATION?
The Swedish Democratic Party, a populist right-wing party with a hardline stance on immigration and crime, first entered parliament in 2010 and has grown steadily since.
The party won 13% of the vote in 2018, making it the third-largest force in parliament. Polls show it is likely to improve on Sunday.
Some Swedes compare the party to Trump-style populism and note that the party was founded by far-rights decades ago. They distrust its reported transition to a more traditional conservative party.
The party was led by Jimmie Akesson, a 43-year-old former web designer who was the impetus to try to moderate the party’s visuals.
However, the party has clearly hit the social mood and other parties are moving closer to their position, as many Swedes believe they can no longer bear the costs of generous asylum policies. of the country and is trying to crack down on crime.
Once a member, other conservative parties are increasingly ready to deal with the Swedish Democratic Party.
Andersson told reporters on Saturday that the “emergence of the far right” was partly the fault of the right-wing opposition, which she said “spent a lot of time and effort trying to convince people to that the Swedish Democrats are not the party they really are.”
How serious is crime in Sweden?
Some immigrants have had difficulty integrating into Swedish society, leading to isolated neighborhoods with high crime rates.
Gang violence mainly takes place between criminal networks that deal in drugs or engage in other illegal activities. But recently there have been cases of innocent bystanders getting hurt. So far, 48 people have been killed by guns in Sweden, three more than in 2021.
Fears caused by shootings and explosions in disadvantaged neighborhoods have made crime one of the most pressing issues for Swedish voters.
“Shootings and bombings have increased over the past few years and (this violence) is now seen as a social problem,” said Anders Sannerstedt, a political scientist at Lund University in southern Sweden. great society”.
Andersson became Sweden’s first female prime minister less than a year ago – a belated milestone for a country that is in many ways an example of gender equality.
“I’m really proud,” said Ulrika Hoonk, a 39-year-old who voted early in Stockholm on Friday, saying “it took too long” for that to happen.
Polls show Andersson’s party is particularly popular with women, with men tending to vote more conservatively.
Although Andersson was the first prime minister, there are still many women representing positions of power. The four party leaders are women and one party has one woman and one man sharing leadership. In parliament, the gender balance has long been split 50-50.
Several women voters interviewed this week said that ultimately having a woman at the top is very important to them, and a factor they consider when choosing their support. which party.
Jan M. Olsen of Copenhagen, Denmark, participated.
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