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Swedish elections: Conservatives collapse, extreme-right gains
Per Olsson Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden)
The elections in Sweden on 14 September were a catastrophe for the ruling right-wing alliance of four parties that have formed the government since 2006 (Moderates, Christian Democrats, Liberal Party and Centre Party). Never before have these parties had such poor election results - less than 40% combined.
On election night, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt announced his resignation as both prime minister and leader of the Moderates. Other right-wing parties may also see a change of leadership following the election results, and the alliance can now crack open.
This year's election took place against the background of a dramatic change in public opinion - against the government and right-wing politics. For a long time, the opinion polls pointed towards a clear victory for the red-green opposition (the Social Democrats and the Green Party, with the support of the Left Party). But the closer the election loomed, the smaller the red-green lead became.
The official red-green election campaign and media coverage lacked mention of any issues key to the working class: privatisation, welfare, education, the health care crisis, government jobs initiatives, etc. The red-green alliance did not put forward any anti-capitalist policies or any idea of taking some of the billions that the super-rich, large corporations and banks are sitting on.
It was these weaknesses that meant the racist right-wing Swedish Democrats (SD) were able to make gains using a mix of populism and racism and could double their vote from last time. Although the SD voted with the last government on most issues, they tried to present the party as opposed to the government, alongside attacks on an alleged "mass immigration".
Despite its neo-liberal tradition SD gained support from voters who are strongly opposed to profits in schools, and those disgusted with the Social Democrats declaring they will not reverse privatisation. The SD is perceived as a party that challenges the establishment, even though the party is part of the same establishment.
A weakened Social Democracy will now try to form a government with the Green Party. They can only form a new government and get proposals through with support of several other parties. On election night there were signals from at least the Liberal Party that cooperation is possible. The Left Party leader, Jonas Sj-stedt, also spoke about the possibility of wider cooperation to isolate the SD. But as expected, the Social Democrats said no to the Left Party participating in a new government but want them as a supporting party in Parliament. It is too early to predict what the next government will look like.
Neither 'isolation' nor 'cooperation' can stop the SD or arrest the economic, social and political crisis that creates the dissatisfaction that racist right-wing parties make gains from.
While the SD increased their vote, there is also a widespread desire to stand up against racism, sexism and class inequalities. As well as the defeat of the government alliance, this was reflected in the Feminist Initiative (FI) coming close to getting into parliament. The FI is seen as a new feminist and left-wing challenge. It was elected onto 13 of the 21 councils it stood for.
The election campaigns by Rättvisepartiet Socialisternas showed that clear socialist policies can gain support. Continued grassroots campaigns are needed more than ever - for non-profit welfare, secure jobs, etc.
We have to fight for a new workers' party, with a socialist programme. This could offer an organised and united struggle and a programme against capitalism, right-wing politics and racist divisions.
Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna kept its two council seats in Haninge (south Stockholm) and as well as two out of three seats in Luleå (north Sweden).
We are awaiting results for our candidate in Gothenburg. During the campaign, we raised what the party has achieved in numerous local campaigns and struggles, as well as a clear internationalist and socialist programme.
We organised several protests and demonstrations against local cuts and against racism.
In the six week campaign, we sold 4,500 election manifestos. We recruited dozens of new members and have more new members on the way.
In The Socialist 24 September 2014:
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