Sweden Democrats

European Parliament Election 2014: Post-mortem (Part 8)

And finally we reach the concluding part, which will cover Sweden and the United Kingdom, and which will also contain a listed overview of the results from each member state covered.

21. Sweden

The political scene in Sweden at the moment is dominated by the emergence of the Feminist Initiative (FI) party, officially they’ve been around since 2005 however they’ve only just gained serious momentum with a novel approach to breeding members and voter in the form of meetings in people’s houses. Get an assortment of your associates together and FI will send you a member to give you the blow by blow on feminism, or rather their version of feminism, a strategy that proved to be immensely effective with an increase in members from 1,500 to 15,000 in the space of only a few months. FI has heavy hitters sitting behind it with former Left Party (VP) leader Gudrun Schyman being their de-facto leader and Benny Andersson from ABBA being a supporter who gave them one million Kronor for the 2009 European election, though less this time around. Schyman herself is a rather controversial figure having been convicted for tax fraud whilst the leader of VP, subsequently leaving the party to focus on feminism, although I doubt many people actually believe that was the prime reason. For a view of how there emergence has effected Swedish politics we can look no further than this ’round-table’ discussion hosted by Radio Sweden at the Almedalen politics festival at the start of July on the as yet non-Russian island of Gotland, vicious to say the least.

In terms of ‘socialist’ parties in Sweden, the parties of interest for this election are as follows: The Left Party (VP), the old official pro-Moscow communist party in Sweden, they took an increasingly Eurocommunist direction in the 1970’s and 1980’s culmination with an official break from Marxism in 1990 when they took their current name, dropping the ‘communists’ appendage that had followed Left Party; under Gudrun Schyman’s leadership they adopted feminism as an ideology, prefiguring FI. The second party of interest is a party called ‘The Socialists’, known electorally as the Socialist Welfare Party and to be referred here-in under the abbreviation SVP. These are the only parties that officially contested the election from a socialist viewpoint, however Sweden records informal ‘write-in’ votes when it’s counting the results and as such we’ll also be noting the ‘write-in’ votes for the Communist Party (KP) and the Communist Party of Sweden (SKP); the former having been formed as a pro-Beijing split and the latter as a pro-Moscow split from VP in the 1960’s and 1980’s respectively. On the point of KP, they have a annual cultural award that in 2012 had a 10th anniversary gig, one of those participating was the Ragga artist Kapten Röd (Captain Red) whose song In Kommer Ting is to be found below; tangential but interesting, and perhaps an unsurprising insight into my esoteric listening habits.

 

Before actually getting to the results lets take a minute to consider the SCB Party Preference Survey for May 2014 and its changes on the survey conducted in November 2013 that was mentioned in my piece on Swedish polling back in March. The Social Democrats (PES affiliated) 35.3%, Moderates (EPP affiliated) 22.7%, Sweden Democrats (Farage affiliated) 8.1%, Green Party (EGP affiliated), 8.0%, Left Party (NGL affiliated) 8.0%, Liberal People’s Party (ALDE affiliated) 5.3%, Centre Party (ALDE affiliated) 4.9%, Christian Democrats (EPP affiliated) 3.9%, Others 3.9%. The governing coalition of Moderates, Liberals, Centrists and Christian Democrats amount to a collective total of 36.8%, you’d have to think that Prime Minister, and hypothetical Glamrocker, Frederik Reinfeldt is on his way out considering that the September general election is coming up very fast now. These results are positive for VP as they’ve increased their vote by 1.3% since November, the largest improvement registered outside of the 2.6% increase for the ‘others’, most of which could be an FI vote. The drive by VP and their latest leader Jonas Sjöstedt to get profit-making elements out of the Swedish welfare system could be a reason for this increase.

On the subject of the results, VP managed to get 6.3%, which was an increase of 0.65% on their result from 2009 of 5.66% and helped them retain their single seat in Brussels; at the start of the year they might have expected more, however the rise of FI probably stifled any chance of a larger increase. For the SVP, they achieved 86 votes, too small a number to reasonably represent as a percentage, however this is an increase on the 78 votes they got in 2009. For the ‘write-ins’, the KP got 5 votes and the SKP 3 votes. In addition to that there were 3 votes cast for Jesus, 2 for Batman and 2 for Donald Duck! In terms of FI’s entrance to the world of political stardom, they managed 5.49% and 1 seat, making the choice after winning that seat to sit with the S&D group formed around PES. As the star of FI was rising, one was falling as the Pirate Party ended up with only 2.23% of the vote, down 4.9% on the 7.13% they received in 2009 and resulting in them loosing both of the seats they held in Brussels. More troubling however is the performance of the xenophobic Sweden Democrats party, who increased their vote from 3.27% to 9.67%, gaining themselves 2 seats; they were to be associated with the Marine Le Pen/Geert Wilders group EAF, however they subsequently joined up with UKIP and M5S in the EFDD grouping.

22. United Kingdom

The United Kingdom, the birthplace of many Internationals of a socialist disposition along with being where the Karl Marx wrote his most important works, however not exactly a bastion of socialism in terms of large scale support, well not recently at any rate. Personally I can’t be bothered to make much of a comment on the state of general politics in the UK, and I’d actually wonder if I’d be providing much information that wasn’t already in the minds of those reading given the anglophone nature of that readership, so this last member state in our list will be dealt with in a slightly more perfunctory manner than might be expected for a member state with a population of 64 million or there about.

The parties and coalitions of interest include the No2EU coalition which include; the Socialist Party of England and Wales (SPEW), which is the UK section of the CWI; the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), which is the largest in terms of membership of the various successors to the old CPGB;  and the RMT union that had been headed up by the late Bob Crow. Outside of the No2Eu coalition we have three other parties of interest; the Socialist Party of Great Britain (SPGB), who are regarded as being in the impossibilist tradition; the Socialist Labour Party (SLP), started by Arthur Scargil in response the the removal of clause 4 from the Labour Party’s constitution; and finally, the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) which split off from the Workers’ Revolutionary Party and its own International Committee of the Fourth International in the 1980’s. The new ‘Left Unity‘ party that was formed last year didn’t contest the European elections, but might be something to watch in the future if the ‘moderates’ like Salman Shaheen don’t take it down the road of ‘responsible’ parliamentarianism.

The Results don’t exactly fill one with any sense of hope about the future for socialism in the UK; the No2EU coalition got 0.20% of the vote, down 0.81% on the 1.01% they got in 2009, a lamentable decrease; the SPGB got 0.04%, an increase of 0.02% on the previous result; the SLP managed 0.03%, a massive decrease of 1.12% on the 1.15% they took in 2009; finally, the SEP received 0.03%, static on their result from 2009. these results constitute a collective decrease of 1.91% on the collective total of 2.22% they managed in 2009.

I suppose I should at least mention UKIP and the Liberal Democrats, both of whom have had widely divergent results. For UKIP, the constant attention the UK media have given to the stockbroker Nigel Farage has proved to be quite effective with an increase for them up to 27.49% of the vote and 24 seats, this represents an increase on their previous result of 10.99% and 11 seats; a sad indictment of the state of affairs in UK public discourse. As for the Lib Dems, never great players at the EU elections despite their federalist credentials, they’ll find themselves drowning soon enough in the ignominy of political obscurity if these results are anything to go by; down to 6.87% of the vote and only 1 solitary seat in Brussels, yet Nick Clegg continues apace in contrast to the litany of politician who’ve fallen on their swords post EU elections, like Gilmore here or Rubalcaba in Spain.

23. Listed Results

The results will be presented as a numbered list in the same order as they’ve appeared in all eight parts.

  1. Austria: Europa Anders [2.1%; 0 seats]
  2. Belgium: Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB-PvdA) [3.51%; 0 seats], Mouvement de Gauche (MG) [0.07%, 0 seats]
  3. Croatia: Croatian Labourists – Labour Party [3.4%; 0 seats], Socialist Labour Party (SRP) [0.19%; 0 seats]
  4. Cyprus: Progressive Party of Working Peoples (AKEL) [26.98%; 2 seats], Drasy-Eylem [0.86%; 0 seats], Cyprus Socialist Party [0.11%; 0 seats]
  5. Czech Republic: Communist Party of Bohemia & Moravia (KSČM) [10.98%; 3 seats]
  6. Denmark: People’s Movement against the EU [8.1%; 1 seat]
  7. France: Front de Gauche (FdG) [6.61%; 4 seats], New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) [0.39%; 0 seats], Workers’ Struggle (LO) [1.17%; 0 seats]
  8. Finland: Left Alliance [9.3%; 1 seat], Communist Party of Finland (SKP) [0.3%; 0 seats]
  9. Germany: Die Linke [7.4%; 7 seats], German Communist Party (DKP) [0.1%; 0 seats], Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany (MLPD) [0.1%; 0 seats], Social Equality Party (PSG) [0.03%; 0 seats]. Additionally: Animal Welfare party (TP) [1.2%; 1 seat]
  10. Greece: SYRIZA [26.57%; 6 seats], Communist Party of Greece (KKE) [6.11%; 2 seats], ANTARSYA [0.72%; 0 seat], Plan B [0.2%; 0 seats], Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Greece (ML-KKE) [0.19%; 0 seats], Workers’ Revolutionary Party (EEK) [0.08%; 0 seat], Fighting Socialist Party of Greece* (ASKE) [0.06%; 0 seats], Organisation of International Communists of Greece (ODKE) [0.05%; 0 seats], Organisation for the Reconstruction of the Communist Party of Greece (OAKKE) [0.05%; 0 seats]. *officially the translation is ‘fighting’, but I can’t help but think that militant might be a better transliteration, I can’t speak Greek so I’m not too sure.
  11. Italy: The Other Europe (AET) [4.03%; 3 seats]
  12. Latvia: Latvian Socialist Party (LSP) [1.54%; 0 seats]
  13. Luxembourg: Déi Lénk [5.76%; 0 seats], Communist Party of Luxembourg (KPL) [1.49%; 0 seats]
  14. Netherlands: Socialist Party (SP) [9.6%; 2 seats]. Additionally, Party for the Animals (PvdD) [4.2%; 1 seat]
  15. Poland: Europa Plus* [3.58%; 0 seats], Zieloni** [0.23%; 0 seats]. * Includes Polish Labour Party (PPP). ** Includes Polish Socialist Party (PPS), which might be socialist, I’m exactly clear on that.
  16. Portugal: Portuguese Communist Party/Ecologist Party – The Greens (PCP-PEV) [12.69%; 3 seats], Left Bloc (BE) [4.56%; 1 seat], Portuguese Communist Workers’ Party (PCTP/MRPP) [1.67%; 0 seats], Socialist Alternative Movement (MAS) [0.38%; 0 seats], Workers’ Party of Socialist Unity (POUS) [0.11%; 0 seats]
  17. Romania: Socialist Alternative Party (PAS) [0.17%; 0 seats]
  18. Slovakia: Communist Party of Slovakia (KSS) [1.51%; 0 seats], Dawn [0.49%; 0 seats]
  19. Slovenia: United Left (ZL) [5.47%; 0 seats]
  20. Spain: Izquierda Plural (IP) [10.03%; 6 seats], Podemos [7.98%; 5 seats], Los Pueblos Deciden (LPD) [2.08%; 1 seat], Communist Party of the People’s of Spain (PCPE) [0.19%; 0 seats]
  21. Sweden: Left Party (VP) [6.3%; 1 seat], Socialist Welfare Party (SVP) [0.0%; 0 seats], Communist Party (KP) [0.0%; 0 seats]. Communist Party of Sweden (SKP) [0.0%; 0 seats]
  22. United Kingdom: No2EU [0.2%; 0 seats], Socialist Party of Great Britain (SPGB) [0.04; 0 seats], Socialist Labour Party (SLP) [0.03%; 0 seats], Socialist Equality Party (SEP) [0.03%; 0 seats]

EDIT: Looking back over the results in Europe I noticed that I missed a party in Estonia that probably warranted attention, the Estonian United Left Party (EÜVP), who got 226 votes, the small size of that vote tally probably explains why I missed them. Additionally I’ve decided to list the Irish results to make things complete. 

  1. Estonia: Estonian United Left Party (EÜVP) [0.07%; 0 seats]
  2. Ireland: Sinn Fein (SF) [ROI: 19.52%; 3 seats] [NI: 25.52%; 1 seat], Socialist Party (SP) [ROI: 1.81%; 0 seats], People Before Profit Alliance (PBPA) [ROI: 1.44%; 0 seats]

And that concludes my series on the European election, I hope it was informative and as always any corrections are welcome. Additionally I hope that injecting a dose of Swedish music that isn’t ABBA might have interested people.

Swedish polling and politics running up to general election 2014

In the first of a series of planned articles on opinion polling and politics around Europe, I’ll examine the polling and political situation in Sweden during the period of January 2012 through to January 2014.

1. Political overview

In the aftermath of the Swedish General election of 2010 the Riksdag(Swedish Parliament) was divided amongst eight distinct parties and three distinct camps. These parties included amongst them the following:

  • Sveriges Socialdemokratiska arbetarparti(Swedish Social Democratic Workers’ Party, SAP, [2010 Result:30.66%,112 seats]) – (Electorally as: Arbetarepartiet-Socialdemokraterna)
  • Moderata samlingspartiet (Moderate Party, M, [2010 Result:30.06%,107 seats])
  • Miljöpartiet de Gröna (Green Party, MP, [2010 Result:7.34%,25 seats])
  • Folkpartiet Liberalerna (Liberal People’s Party, FP, [2010 Result:7.06%,24 Seats])
  • Centerpartiet (Centre Party, C, [2010 Result:6.56%,23 Seats])
  • Sverigedemokraterna (Sweden Democrats, SD, [2010 Result:5.70%,20 Seats])
  • Vänsterpartiet (Left Party, VP, [2010 Result:5.60%,20 Seats])
  • Kristdemokraterna (Christian Democrats, KD, [2010 Result:5.60%,19 Seats])[1][2]

The Moderate Party, Centre Party, Liberal People’s Party and Christian Democrats together form the Alliansen, which is the current governing bloc in Sweden, and control a collective total of 173 of the 349 seats in the Riksdag; they, as can be seen, were short of the majority point of 175 seats. In opposition to the Alliansen is De rödgröna, an alliance of the Social Democrats, Green Party and Left Party; De rödgröna controls 156 seats in the Riksdag. The third camp in the Riksdag are the Far-right Sweden Democrats who, owing to their perceived extremism, are without any allies in the Riksdag so sit alone with their 20 seats.

2. Electoral system overview

In Sweden, the electoral system is an open party list with 310 seats divided amongst 29 constituencies, based for the most part on the counties of Sweden but with the larger counties being split up into smaller units. On top of the constituency seats there are 39 adjustment seats at national level, which are divided amongst the parties based both on the total number of votes received nationally and the amount of seats won at constituency level. Allocation of seats at all levels is determined according to the modified Sainte-Laguë method, a form of highest averages method not too dissimilar to D’hondt, but widely recognised in its unmodified form to be ‘fairer’ than D’hondt; in its modified form it performs much the same as D’hondt. Parties are subject to two different sets of ‘thresholds’ during an election to the Riksdag; a 4% threshold applies nationally which, if achieved, entitles parties to participate in the distribution of seats at both the constituency level and the national adjustment level, and a 12% threshold applies at the constituency level for parties not reaching the 4% national threshold, if this is achieved, a party is entitled to participate in the seat distribution for that constituency.[3]

3. Opinion polling overview

In Sweden opinion polls are carried out by a number of different commercial organisations including TNS-Sifo, Novus, Yougov, Sentio, Ipsos, Skop, Demoskop and United Minds. In addition to those ‘pollsters’, there are biannual ‘mega-polls’ conducted by Statistics Sweden (SCB), Sweden’s national statistics agency. Most of these pollsters conduct opinion polls on a regular monthly basis, though that regularity is somewhat disrupted by the summer, which I gather is something of a go-slow time for Sweden, in a way not generally replicated in other countries.

Special attention will be given to the polls conducted by the SCB which, while few in number, are of a quality rarely seen in the world given that they are both conducted by an impartial public statistics agency and have samples of 9,000 or so which is much, much larger than the usual sample sizes in Ireland of 1000, or indeed even the larger samples of 2500 favoured in a country like Germany. Generally for most Swedish opinion polls there exists the same caveats that exist for polls conducted in a country like Ireland, namely a lack of total transparency on the part of commercial pollsters and the higher margins of error seen on polls of the relatively small size of 1000 people; the maximum margin of error on a poll of 1000 is 3.1% in comparison to the 1.03% on SCB’s polls of 9,000. Given the margins of error we will restrict ourselves to looking at aggregated monthly averages which are more likely to smooth out the errors present in any individual poll issued in any individual month; though when necessary we will make reference to specific polls. I’ve taken every effort I can to make sure than I’ve recorded every opinion poll conducted in Sweden during the time period in question, but, as I’m not a speaker or reader of Swedish it needs to be taken into consideration that I might have missed a few polls.

TABLE ONE: Monthly polling averages January 2012-December 2012

Polling-1

4. Opinion Polling January 2012 to December 2012

2012 started in Swedish politics with the Social Democrats and their bloc polling weakly against the Moderate Party and the Alliansen. The Social Democrats, who have historically enjoyed support in the high thirties and forties, achieved a remarkably low figure of 24.1% in the average for January, while their bloc was only boosted to 43.6% by the performances of the Green Party with their 12.0% and the Left Party with its 7.5%. By contrast the Moderates enjoyed 34.4%, a very high figure for them historically, though their Alliansen allies were not enjoying such success with the Liberal People’s Party, Centre Party and Christian Democrats all polling below their 2010 General election results with the Christian Democrats being below the 4% needed to get seats in the Riksdag with 3.4%; the Alliansen as as whole secured a total of 48.9% in January.

This languishing for the Social Democrats in the polls was attributed widely to the general unpopularity of their leader Håkan Juholt who promptly stepped on his sword and resigned as leader towards the end of the month;[4] Juholt’s replacement was trade unionist Stefan Löfven[5] whose appointed seemed to steady the Social Democrat’s ship seeing them rise upwards to 26.9% in February, 31.5% in March and high points in April, May and June of 35.3%, 35.5% and 35.3% respectively. For the Social Democrat’s allies the months from January onwards marked a downturn in their own fortunes that contrasts with the fortunes of the Social Democrats themselves. For the Green Party their share of the averages declines as soon as the Social Democrat’s leadership changes with the 12.0% of January declining to 9.4% in March before reaching a low point of 8.4% in July. The Left Party on the contrary saw an increase to 8.1% in February, but, that ultimately proved to be an erroneous result with their average declining sharply thereafter to a low of 5.8% in June and July. De rödgröna as a whole improved their average to a high of 50.4% in April, owed exclusively to the Social Democrats, but started to decline towards the second half of the the year.

During the months following January the Moderate Party moved downward in the averages arriving at 31.2% in March and onward to 29.1% in June. Their Alliansen allies the remained mostly static during this time period with the only movements of note being a decline of 0.5% for the Centre Party and a modest upward blip for the Christian Democrats in February and March to 4.0% and 3.8% respectively.

The Sweden Democrats started the year with 6.5% in January, that declined in the following months to low points of 5.6% in both March and May but moved upwards towards the second half of the year.

May 2012 saw the publication of the first of Statistics Sweden’s political party preference survey we will deal with during the course of this article. The Results were as follows: Social Democrats 37.3%, Moderate Party 28.6%, Green Party 8.4%, Left Party 5.9%, Liberal People’s Party 5.5%, Sweden Democrats 5.4%, Centre Party 4.7%, Christian Democrats 3.7% and Others 0.8%.[6] This, for the most part, tallies well with the average for May with the largest deviation being the Social Democrats whose score with SCB is 1.8% above the average. This could be accounted for in any number of potential errors present in the five polls from Novus, Demoskop, yougov, TNS-Sifo and United Minds that comprise the May average; although might be the result of more accurate methods on the part SCB, or just simply the result of a more coherent sample as SCB’s survey uses one single methodology in comparison to the different methodologies used by the pollsters in the average.

Into the second half of 2012 we see in the averages a gradual decline for the Social Democrats who move to 34.6% in August, 33.8% in September, 32.8% in October and finally to 32.0% in December. The Social Democrat’s allies experienced a less dramatic change in their fortunes during that time period with the Green Party having a minor increase in their average in August and September to 9.0% and 9.1% respectively before dropping back towards the mid-eight percent range for the remaining three months of the year. The Left Party’s averages deviated even less with an October score of 6.2% being the only change away from 5.8% in the months of June through to December.

For the Moderate Party the second half of 2012 started with a disappointing low of 29.0% in August but improved thereafter with 29.6% in September, 29.8% in October and 30.1% in December. Their Alliansen allies faired much less convincingly with the Liberal People’s Party having a high blip of 6.8% in July followed by a decline down to 5.9%,5.4% and 5.7% in October, November and December respectively. The Centre Party continued their slow drip downwards with the 4.7% recorded in June and July being exchanged for 4.4%, 4.3% and 4.1% in October, November and December; a decline to be made worse by the policy decisions floated by the Centre Party’s leadership.[7] The Christian Democrats continued to stay below the 4% threshold, spending the second half of 2012 hovering with very little movement around 3.5%.

The Sweden Democrats by contrast to the two large blocs experienced an upward surge in popularity moving from the 6.3% of June towards the 8.2%, 8.7% and 9.2% in the last three months of the year. The controversies created by the Sweden Democrat’s MPs didn’t seem to be denting their popularity;[8] perhaps a worrying self-comment on the current state of Swedish society.

The November survey released by SCB contained the following results: Social Democrats 34.8%, Moderate Party 28.1%, Green Party 8.6%, Sweden Democrats 7.9%, Left Party 5.8%, Liberal People’s Party 5.5%, Centre Party 4.4%, Christian Democrats 3.8% and others 1.2%.[9] That result involved a drop of 2.5% for the Social democrats on the May result and an increase of 2.5% for the Sweden Democrats. The largest deviations from the November average were the Social Democrats with a deviation of 1.7% above the average, and the Moderate Party who were 1.6% below their poll average. The deviation on the part of the Moderate Party’s figures might be explained in part by the Christian Democrats who, at 3.8%, are above their poll average by 0.3%. The Sweden Democrats were also below their average by 0.8%, suggesting potential brittleness to their support; though it isn’t impossible that the Swedish public are less inclined to answer with an ‘undesirable’ choice when talking to a public body like the SCB.

TABLE TWO: Monthly polling averages January 2013-December 2013

Polling-2

5. Opinion Polling January 2013 to December 2013

The stories in Swedish politics during the starting months of 2013 including the continued wrestling between the Centre Party’s leadership and its grass-roots; a fight the grass-roots inevitably won, but with a decline to 3.6% by the time of the February average, it might be argued that the damage had already been done.[10][11] Certainly, it set the tone for the Centre Party’s polling experience throughout 2013, the closest they came to the 4% threshold in the first half of the year was a 3.9% result in April, that was repeated in June. The Moderate Party moved downward in the averages at the start of 2013, from the high 30.1% of December they received 29.6% in January, this trend continued throughout the following months with a fall to 28.7% in February and 27.9% in March; At that point the trend abated and they found their average stay steady in the low 28% range during April and May. While it is impossible to be categorical about why the Moderate Party declined in support during the first few months of the year, there is at least an opportunity to speculate that the electoral Strategy of their Christian Democrat allies and the controversial nature of some ministerial proclamations May have taken a toll.[12][13] The Christian Democrats started 2013 with a modest upward swing in support, from 3.6% in December they achieved the heady heights of 3.8% in February. This was something of an illusion though as they soon slipped back in the averages recording 3.6% in both March and April before a low of 3.5% in May; June saw them score an unusually high 3.9%. For the Liberal People’s Party the early stages of 2013 continued their general trend from 2012, namely the hovering in and around the 6% mark, this manifested as a 6.1% in January, 5.6% in February, 6.2% in March and April, 5.8% in May and 6.0% in June.

The Social Democrats, Green Party and Left Party started the year in much the same vain as they’d ended with the Social Democrats themselves declining modestly to 31.8% in January before improving to 32.1% in February, 32.7% in March and 33.0% in April; these figures though started to edge down into May and June with 32.7% and 32.4% respectively. For the Green Party, they stayed around their usual 8.5% mark in January, in fact, they were exactly on that figure; February and March saw a change to this situation with 9.4% and 9.0% respectively. This proved to be a start to a rise in the Green Party’s long-term fortunes with 9.3% in May and a high of 10.0% in June, marred only by a low of 8.7% in April. The Left Party finally started their movement away from the figure of 5.8% with a 5.9% in February, 6.1% in March, 6.2% in April, 6.6% in May and 6.7% in June. The Rödgröna as a whole scored a fairly low 46.1% in January, but, that proved to be a low point with the average rising upwards to 49.1% in June; as can be seen, this was a collective increase on the part of all three parties in the Rödgröna but with the Social Democrats contributing the least to this improvement, possibly owing to the occasional controversy courted by high ranked members and the subsequent reactions by the party.[14]

The Sweden Democrat’s start to 2013 was much the same as their end to 2012 with a rise from December’s 9.2% to 9.8% in January and onward to 10.2% in February. This surge upward, which had been uninterrupted in the averages since it started in June 2012, came to an end in March with a decline to 9.6%, followed by 8.7% in April and May before going upwards again to 9.3% in June. This fall and then rise again in the Sweden Democrat’s fortunes can perhaps be explained by the series of controversies the party had to deal with during that period of time. These controversies included the expulsion of some neo-nazis from the party, a councillor leaving for a neo-nazi party, notably high campaign donations, and the continued saga of former economic spokesman Erik Almqvist.[15][16][17][18]

During May the Stockholm district of Husby was gripped by a nine day long riot sparked off by the shooting dead by Police of an elderly man in his apartment.[19] The shooting inflamed tensions in the district, whose population is predominantly of an immigrant background, tensions perhaps fuelled by the rise in popularity of the Sweden Democrats. Reactions to the riots by the Alliansen parties scarcely acknowledged this however; certainly Swedish prime minister, and Moderate Party leader, Fredrik Reinfeldt wasn’t mincing his words in blaming the rioters themselves.[20]

The May 2013 SCB party preference survey had the following figures: Social Democrats 35.6%, Moderate Party 26.9%, Green Party 8.5%, Sweden Democrats 7.7%, Left Party 6.4%, Liberal People’s Party 6.0%, Centre Party 4.2%, Christian Democrats 3.6% and others 1.1%.[21] This survey sees some fairly large deviations from the average for May; the largest deviation was the Social Democrat’s figure which was 2.9% above the average. This deviation is a sign, if every there was one, that methodology has an important impact on the headline figures; indeed during May the closest pollster to SCB’s figures for the Social Democrats was Skop with 34.2%. Whether SCB are in the right on methodology is ultimately a matter of debate, debate that is likely only to be answered if SCB were to decide to do a survey during the general election campaign, allowing a direct comparison between their results and the officially counted vote.

Moving into the second half of 2013 we see the Social Democrats average remain more or less level with 32.9% in July, 32.5% in August and 32.8% in September. In October the Social Democrats received a high 33.8% which ultimately turned out to be something of an illusion with November and December contributing figures of 33.1% and 33.0%. The Social Democrats positioning in relation to their allies during this time period is arguably more interesting than than the averages with the annual summer political get together in Gotland providing a suggestion from some members of the Social Democrats that they reckon the ex-communist Left Party have moved rightward enough to not warrant a ‘cordon sanitaire’ around them, thus the implication being that the Left Party might find itself in government come the end of September 2014;[22] a more rightward tilting Left Party would jive well with the Social Democrats who have been going further in that direction themselves in recent times.[23] As to the Left Party’s polling averages, they proved to be good for them with the early part of the summer giving them a remarkably high 7.5% in July followed by a lower, but still high in context of their recent averages, 7.0% in August; though it needs to be said that there were only three polls in July and four in August, perhaps giving an explanation as to why they saw these high figures. September brought the Left Party 6.8% with that being followed by 6.4% in October before moving back upwards to 7.1% in November and 7.5% in December. This increase in support could be accounted for by the high profile defection of legal eagle Claes Borgström from the Social Democrats to them.[24] For the Green Party the averages in the second half of the year proved to be quite static with a high of 9.7% in September and a low of 9.1% in October, but generally staying in the mid-nine percent range.

For the Moderate Party the averages showed a steady trend downwards throughout the second half of 2013; a 26.3% in August moved to 25.7% in both September and October and was followed by a 25.3% in October with a low of 24.4% in December. Stories of esoteric usage of government funds might be in part responsible for this slumping.[25] The Liberal People Party, quite like the Green Party, had a very humdrum time in the averages during the second half of the year with a 5.9% of July being followed by 5.8% in September and a low of 5.2% in October before climbing back up again to 6.0% in November and 6.2% in December. The Centre Party and Christian Democrats, who were both below the 4% threshold in the early part of 2013, moved to 4.1% and 4.0% respectively in August. For the Christian Democrats this proved to be something of a blip as they promptly fell back down again to 3.8% in September, 3.7% in October and 3.8% in November before returning to the magic 4% in December with that exact number. The Centre Party’s average moved around quite a lot during the autumn with the 4.1% of August turning into 3.9% in September, then back up to 4.4% in October, down to 4.0% in November and finishing with 3.8% in December.

The Sweden Democrat’s second half of 2013 was one of a small upward swing in their average followed by a steadying; in July they received 10.6%, their highest average to date, it was an abrupt upsurge not repeated in August when they fell to 9.3%. The real movement up in their average happened in September when they received 10.1%, followed by 10.4% in October and 10.0% in November before ending at 10.2% in December. This period of time included a fairly substantial amount of attention for the Sweden Democrats, mostly of an unfavourable nature. In August they received a rebuke from their counterpart in Denmark, the Danish People’s Party, for co-operating with the French National Front.[26] This was followed later in November by Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson being hit with a cake while at a book signing;[27] the Swedish secret police, SÄPO, even saw fit to launch an investigation into that.[28]During December a Sweden Democrat politician in Malmö had an explosive device detonated outside his apartment blowing the apartment’s door off its hinges; this perhaps shows volatility amongst those opposing the Sweden Democrats xenophobia[29]. Also in December there was a mass anti-racism protest in Kärrtorp, while not directly related to the Sweden Democrats it could be argued that the xenophobic campaigning of the Sweden Democrats has emboldened the more hard-line neo-nazis whose disruption of a previous demonstration was the reason for the protest in Kärrtorp.[30]

Results of the SCB political party preference survey for November 2013: Social Democrats 34.3%, Moderate Party 25.5%, Sweden Democrats 9.3%, Green Party 8.8%, Left Party 6.7%, Liberal People’s Party 5.4%, Centre Party 4.7%, Christian Democrats 4.1% and others 1.3%.[31] There are significant deviations for the Social Democrats and Centre Party between SCB’s survey and the polling average, these deviations are for the Social Democrats 1.2% and for the Centre Party 0.7%. I don’t think it’s much of an outrage to be suggesting that as we get closer to the Swedish general election in September 2014 we will see a moving upwards of the vote of both of these parties as people start clarifying their political choices in the own minds, the historic electoral pedigree of these two parties inevitably will weigh heavily on the minds of the Swedish electorate; they scored a collective 68.66% of the vote in 1973. All of the SCB surveys are released with a flow chart giving a good impression of where a party’s support either comes from or is going to; the flow chart for the November survey shows that for the Social Democrats their increase in support from the 2010 general election is mainly the result of a transfer of 1.9% from the Moderate Party and of 1.0% from the Liberal People’s Party. In contrast the Social Democrats are losing support to the Sweden Democrats, while the Greens are losing support to both the Social Democrats and Left Party whilst gaining it from the Alliansen parties. The Christian Democrats lose support to the Social Democrats, Moderate Party and Sweden Democrats almost in equal quantity; the Centre Party are the sufferers of a similarly equal distribution of their losses with the largest share heading to the Social Democrats. The consequence of these figures would be that if current Social Democrat voters decide to change their mind then the primary beneficiaries would likely be the Alliansen parties.[32]

6. Opinion Polling January 2014

January 2014 saw the continuation of the trends we have observed during the latter half of 2013, the figures are as follows: Social Democrats 33.0%, Moderate Party 24.7%, Sweden Democrats 10.0%, Green Party 9.3%, Left Party 7.8%, Liberal People’s Party 5.9%, Centre Party 4.2%, Christian Democrats 3.5% and others 1.4%. All eight Swedish commercial pollsters polled during the course of January giving us the opportunity to compare the pollsters to each other, a comparison that puts meat of the bone of the argument that methodology and margin of error are an important consideration when evaluating an individual opinion poll. For the Social Democrats January’s polls contained a low of 31.5% from Sentio and a High of 34.7% from Demoskop. Demoskop’s figure for the Social Democrats is contrasted with their low figure for the Moderate Party of 22.3%; the high for the Moderate Party being 27.2% from Skop. For the Green Party their low was a 7.9% which came from Yougov and their high was an 11.1% that came from Demoskop. The Sweden Democrats received their best result from Sentio with 13.7%, this contrasted with a low of 7.3% from Ipsos. For the Left Party Ipsos offered up their best result with 9.1% while Demoskop gave them their low of 6.5%. For the Liberal People’s Party the low was 5.1%, which came from Novus, and the high was 6.5%, which came from TNS-Sifo. General agreement seems to reign between the pollsters for the Christian Democrats with a low of 3.1% from Skop and a high of 4.3% from Yougov; though Yougov are out on their lonesome with the next highest being Sentio with only 3.7%. By contrast the Centre Party was subject to a much wider variety with a low of 3.1% and a high of 5.2%; though there were three results of 4.5% and one of 4.6%, which could be taken as indicating a certain amount of agreement. All in all it isn’t difficult to look at those figures and come out with the conclusion that an individual pollster’s polls are subject to natural variation as a result of the methodologies and sample sizes used; something which should always be taken account of by journalists when reporting on polls, but which rarely is, a shame really.

TABLE THREE: SCB Survey Seat Projections

Polling-37. Projected Election Results based on SCB Surveys

It’s probably not a great idea to include this section given prior comments I myself have made about the inaccuracies present in any and all projected election results, but since I’ve written extensively about abstract percentages in the previous sections I thought it would be useful to give concrete examples as to what those percentages would mean in the context of the Swedish Parliamentary and electoral set up. As such, I’ve chosen to make four projections, each based on the SCB political party preference surveys from May 2012, November 2012, May 2013 and November 2013. The spreadsheet used to make these projections is linked to in the References.[33]

As can be seen from the contents of table three, the Rödgröna have been projected to take a majority of seats in the Riksdag in all four of the SCB surveys released during the time period which we have been examining; indeed the Social Democrats were projected off the back of the 37.3% in the May 2012 survey to take a substantial 140 seats by themselves alone, though this did move downwards as their survey scores diminished. While the Centre Party found themselves below the 4% threshold many times in the polls conducted by the commercial pollsters they never found themselves below it in SCB’s surveys; though the results still signified a loss on the previous general election result. The Christian Democrats were not as lucky as the Centre Party and it was only in the November 2013 survey that they managed to work their way back above that 4% threshold; the consequences of this theshold can be seen by comparing the projected result for November 2013 when they scored 4.1% and 14 seats against the result for November 2012 when they scored 3.8%, only 0.3% less, but received zero seats. The only other results of note were the Moderate Party’s percentages taking them below 100 seats in May and November 2013, and, the Sweden Democrats turning the 19 seats of May 2012 into the 29 seats of November 2012; the difference in percentage being only 2.5%.

That concludes this examination of Swedish polling and politics, I hope this article was illuminating for those that have read it and that my facts and style are up to the expected standards; if not, do feel free to comment, I’d be more than happy to make corrections. Below you will find a table containing all the opinion polls I’ve recorded as having been conducted in Sweden during the time period examined along with a list of References used during the course of the article.

TABLE FOUR: Complete list of Polls January 2012-January 2014

Polling-4

REFERENCES:

[1]http://www.val.se/val/val2010/slutresultat/R/rike/index.html [Swedish]

[2]http://www.val.se/val/val2010/slutresultat/R/rike/valda.html [Swedish]

[3]http://www.nsd.uib.no/european_election_database/country/sweden/parliamentary_elections.html

[4] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=4922085

[5] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=4930367

[6] http://www.scb.se/en_/Finding-statistics/Statistics-by-subject-area/Democracy/Political-party-preferences/Party-Preference-Survey-PSU-/Aktuell-Pong/12443/Behallare-for-Press/Political-Party-Preference-Survey-PSU-May-2012/

[7]http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5394222

[8]http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5345662

[9]http://www.scb.se/en_/Finding-statistics/Statistics-by-subject-area/Democracy/Political-party-preferences/Party-Preference-Survey-PSU-/Aktuell-Pong/12443/Behallare-for-Press/Political-Party-Preference-Survey-PSU-November-2012/

[10]http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5399540

[11] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5446931

[12] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5422606

[13] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5430404

[14] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5505638

[15] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5477714

[16] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5556268

[17] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5512574

[18] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5520382

[19] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5539205

[20] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5541318

[21] http://www.scb.se/en_/Finding-statistics/Statistics-by-subject-area/Democracy/Political-party-preferences/Party-Preference-Survey-PSU-/Aktuell-Pong/12443/Behallare-for-Press/Political-Party-Preference-Survey-PSU-May-2013/

[22] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5585345

[23] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5624604

[24] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5699706

[25] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5654713

[26] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5703429

[27] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5695774

[28] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5696020

[29] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5737287

[30] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5741393

[31] http://www.scb.se/en_/Finding-statistics/Statistics-by-subject-area/Democracy/Political-party-preferences/Party-Preference-Survey-PSU-/Aktuell-Pong/12443/Behallare-for-Press/367927/

[32] http://www.scb.se/Statistik/ME/ME0201/2013M11/Figur1_EN.png

[33] https://sevenherring.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/sweden-parliament.xlsx