Social Democrats unharmed by IT scandal, polls suggest

The Sweden Democrats are losing support with just over a year to go to Sweden's next general election, while the ruling Social Democrats may be gaining ground, according to new polls.

Social Democrats unharmed by IT scandal, polls suggest
Stefan Löfven, centre, with ministers Peter Hultqvist and Annika Strandhäll. Photo: Erik Simander/TT

The Sweden Democrat party, which is known for its anti-immigration platform, drops by 3.5 percentage points in the latest election poll by Demoskop on behalf of the Expressen tabloid.

That puts support for the party at 16.6 percent, which means it also loses its place as the second-biggest party in the polls to the centre-right Moderates, whose support grows to 17.2 percent.

However, another poll also released on Thursday still has the Sweden Democrats as the second-largest party, with both it and the Moderates seeing a slight drop (more information below).

The Social Democrats, the main party in the centre-left government coalition with the Greens, meanwhile sees its support grow from 27 percent in the latest Demoskop poll to 28.4 percent.

That is despite a recent government crisis sparked by a major data leak at the Swedish Transport Agency when key information was made available to IT workers in other countries who had not gone through the usual security clearance checks. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven was forced to let two government ministers go in response to the threat of an opposition-led no-confidence vote.

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Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

The crisis is not over yet as the opposition still threatens to call a vote of no confidence after the summer recess. However, the Demoskop poll was carried out after the peak of the crisis, which appears to indicate that the Social Democrats have so far survived the fallout unscathed in the eyes of voters.

The other smaller parties all show a slight increase, with the Centre Party now at 12.9 percent, the Greens at 4.4 percent, the Liberals at 6.4 percent and the Christian Democrats at 4.0 percent.

Pollsters quizzed 1,250 randomly selected voters about their party preference between August 1st and 8th. The Sweden Democrats' drop is the only change that is outside the margin of error.

Another survey by Novus on behalf of public broadcaster SVT, interviewing 2,000 people between July 31st and August 6th, still has the Sweden Democrats as the second-largest party with 18.7 percent support (down 1.3 percentage points), ahead of the Moderates at 15.2 percent (down 0.7 percentage points).

The Novus poll also suggests strengthened support for the Social Democrats at 29.3 percent (up 2.0 percentage points). All changes since their previous poll at the end of May are within the margin of error.

The Green Party is below 4 percent in both the Novus and the Demoskop poll, which means it would not get any seats in parliament if an election were held today.

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Sweden Elects: The latest political news as the election campaign kicks off

What's Sweden talking about this week? In The Local's Sweden Elects newsletter, editor Emma Löfgren rounds up some of the main talking points ahead of the Swedish election.

Sweden Elects: The latest political news as the election campaign kicks off

In an interview that could have jeopardised his job a decade ago, Social Democrat Immigration Minister Anders Ygeman’s suggestion in DN that there should be a 50 percent cap on non-Nordic immigrants in troubled areas of Swedish cities showed how the debate has shifted in recent years.

That said, his comments did not go without criticism. The Left Party slammed them as “racist”, the Greens and the Centre Party also criticised them, and so did the Moderates and some within the Social Democrats.

Ygeman himself said that he had been misunderstood, that he had never meant it as an actual proposal, and that factors such as crime and unemployment were far more important in terms of integration.

“But of course segregation is not just class-based, it also has an ethnic dimension. If you have areas where almost everyone is from other countries, it’s harder to learn Swedish, and if it’s harder to learn Swedish, it’s harder to get a job,” he told public broadcaster SVT.

What do you think? Email me if you want to share your thoughts.

Campaign posters and a new poll

The centre-left Social Democrats and the Moderates, the largest right-wing opposition party, both unveiled their campaign posters last week, which I guess means that the summer holiday lull is officially over and the election campaign is now definitely under way. Just over a month to go.

It’s interesting that the Social Democrats are clearly trying to turn this into a “presidential” style campaign, taking advantage of Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson’s overwhelming popularity compared to the Moderates’ Ulf Kristersson, whose reception among voters is lukewarm.

A poll by the DN newspaper and Ipsos a month ago suggested that 37 percent of voters want to see Andersson as prime minister, compared to 22 percent who preferred Kristersson (12 percent preferred the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats’ leader Jimmie Åkesson, and the other party leaders did not get more than four percent each).

Andersson is in the unique position where voters like her way more than they like her party – a new opinion poll by Demoskop suggests that 28.7 percent would vote for the Social Democrats if the election was held today (the Moderates would get 20.3 percent). The same poll has all the right-wing parties with a slight majority compared to the left-wing parties.

Anyway, the Social Democrats’ campaign posters cover pensions, schools (specifically, limiting profit-making free schools), crime and law and order. Climate change is conspicuously absent, but a party spokesperson told reporters it will be more prominent in its social media campaigns.

When Kristersson, on the other hand, spoke at his party’s event to kick off their election campaign, he emphasised how he’s got a viable coalition on his side – a jibe at the Social Democrats, who will struggle to get their partners (specifically the Centre and Left parties) to collaborate.

He also reiterated his praise for the Sweden Democrats, and The Local asked several experts if the Moderates are the same party that fought the 2018 election, when Kristersson promised Holocaust survivor Hédi Fried he would not cooperate with the Sweden Democrats after the election.

Election pledges

The Local’s Becky Waterton has looked at the election pledges of Sweden’s four main parties, the Social Democrats, Moderates, Sweden Democrats and Centre Party. Click here to read her guide, it’s a really useful roundup.

And what about Covid? Is Sweden’s handling of the pandemic not going to be a talking point in this election? No, at least not if the parties have their way. The Social Democrats run the government, but most of the regions (who are in charge of healthcare) are run by right-wing coalitions. So from a strictly realpolitik perspective, no party is able to attack another without putting themselves at risk of becoming a target. Best forget about it.

In other political news…

… a Sweden Democrat member of parliament has been accused of sending unsolicited dick pics to women, the Moderates want to legalise altruistic surrogacy in Sweden, the Christian Democrats want a national scheme to improve maternity care, the Liberals want to make it harder for people with a criminal record to become Swedish citizens, and Centre Party leader Annie Lööf hit the campaign trail just before the weekend by pledging to reject any proposal for raised taxes after the election.

Sweden Elects is a weekly column by Editor Emma Löfgren looking at the big talking points and issues in the Swedish election race. Members of The Local Sweden can sign up to receive the column plus several extra features as a newsletter in their email inbox each week. Just click on this “newsletters” option or visit the menu bar.