There’s an election coming up in Sweden on Sunday, September 14. It’s an important one and will help determine who will lead the country for the next four years. Currently, there are eight parties represented in the Riksdag (parliament). Steve did a great job of going through some of this information in his post Left or right? Who knows! The Swedish elections of 2014, so definitely check that out. This post will focus a bit more on voting in Sweden, what it determines, how it is done, and who is eligible to vote.
Steve did a great job of listing the parties in order of their current parliamentary representation:
- Socialdemokraterna (the Social Democrats)
- Moderaterna (the Moderate Party)
- Miljöpartiet de Gröna (the Green Party)
- Folkpartiet Liberalerna (the Liberal People’s Party)
- Centerpartiet (the Center Party)
- Sverigedemokraterna (the Sweden Democrats)
- Kristdemokraterna (the Christian Democrats)
- Vänsterpartiet (the Left Party)
Despite Socialdemokraterna having the highest percentage of the vote, the prime minister is from Moderaterna, Fredrik Reinfeldt. That is because, without a majority of the vote, political parties work together to form blocks: right and left, blue and red, conservative and liberal (I’m using American terms when it comes to conservative and liberal). So people aren’t necessarily voting for a prime minister, but instead for representation in the Riksdag. That means you see a lot of focus on campaigning for parties and maybe not as much for individual politicians. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of that too.
For the upcoming election, there are several other parties vying for a seat in the parliament including Feministiskt initiativ (Feminist Initiative), Piratpartiet (Pirate Party), and Kommunistiska partiet (Communist party). Of the parties not currently represented, however, only Feministiskt initiativ is expected to challenge for a seat in the parliament. It takes four percent of the vote to claim a seat in the Riksdag.
Voting in Swedish Riksdag elections is universal and open to all Swedish citizens who are over the age of 18. That includes Swedes living abroad. Swedish emigrants retain that right for ten years after having left Sweden. After that first ten years, Swedish citizens must submit notification of their desire to retain their voting rights, which gives the person another ten years to vote.
Voting in county and municipal elections is a little different. In these elections, you don’t actually have to be a citizen; you just have to be registered as having lived in Sweden continuously for the three years prior to the election.
While the election may be held, technically, on Sunday the 14th, voting has already begun. Sweden allows for advance voting, starting 18 days before the official election day. On election day, the polling station tends to be open from 8am to 8pm. Sweden’s efforts to make voting easy and accessible may contribute to the high voter turnout.
In 2010, 84.63% of registered voters cast a vote. That’s a grand total of 6,028,682 votes out of a population that, at the time, was 9,074,055 total (including anyone, such as children, not eligible to vote).
Interested in learning more about elections in Sweden? Check out Valmyndigheten (the Swedish Election Authority) or head over to your favorite Swedish newspaper site to practice your Swedish and get caught up on the issues.