Swedish Party Politics is a Game

The popular Swedish cartoonist ‘Steget Efter’ made the perfect illustration for the current state of the parliamentary theater after the press conferences from the Center Party and the Liberals: They are ready to break up the right-wing alliance and consider co-operating with the Social Democrats in a bid for power. Their confused supporters are heard all over the web with the question “Did we really vote for this?”. No, you didn’t. Welcome to the Games.

arcade sign

Are people finally starting to wake up to that their votes matter very little in the big scope of things since its the size of the different parties in relation to each other that matters the most in Swedish Politics?

After the Swedish election on 9th of September, the standoff in party block politics became reality: The Left-wing parties got 40,6% of the votes, the right-wingers grabbed 40,2% and the solo flying pariah of Swedish national politics, the Sweden Democrats, got 17,5% support.

A parliamentary deadlock which makes nobody able to rule without breaking the traditional left-right paradigm or negotiating with the Sweden Democrats (which all party leaders have stated they will never do).

Center Party leader Annie Lööf said in her press conference that her party is going to block the Conservatives taking the reigns over the Government unless they do as the Centrists want:

“An Alliance run government does not consist of just one, two or three parties. An Alliance government [should] consist of four […] If [the conservatives] choose to go forward without the rest of the Alliance, the Center Party will vote no” – Annie Lööf

In essence, taking the parties 8,6% of the votes and considering their options where to invest them, which are more or less considering joining the left as the only option. A conflicted stance from the party leader that promised she would eat up her right shoe over helping the Social Democrats (something she later back-pedaled on because screw being principled).

Call me an idealist, but I don’t think this was what the Center Party supporters had in mind when they voted.  Party leader Annie Lööf is walking a thin line between burning a bridge and grabbing some prestige.

The Liberals had a press conference before the Center Party, perhaps setting the tone for how bold Annie Lööf dared to be, and the Liberals Party leader Jan Björklund paints up a scenario that sounds either like the perfect fence sitting or completely off the rails depending on what foot you stand on:

“One option that should be investigated is the creation of a five-party administration between the [right-wing] alliance parties and the Social Democrats. Alternativly, do as they’ve done in Germany, where the two big parties corresponding to the Swedish  Social Democrats and the Conservative Moderate Party, rule together for broader agreements and at the same time keep the fringe parties out of power” – Jan Björklund

Clocking in with a share of 5.5% of the total votes, the Liberals has a little less elbow room for negotiation than the Center Party and I believe this result in the more “kumbaya” approach, to stay in the game. I can’t imagine their supporters being thrilled about the suggestions Björklund put forward – Quite the opposite. Proposing a marriage with the Social Democrats must sting in the heart of the people that thought they voted for a right-leaning alliance party.

With 8 parties and 3 factions (more like 2.5 in reality) wrestling for power in a parliamentary deadlock, it looks like its open season on getting strange bedfellows, a hard sell to supporters. If no one gets a majority there will be a re-election, something that is quite plausible since the Conservative Moderate Party leader had a minor meltdown and supposedly given up creating an administration after the two press conferences. This is detrimental to the Liberals and Centrists since they most likely lost significant amounts of their following in this debacle so any re-election can make them shrink in size. Which is well-deserved karma for playing games against their supporters will, I suppose.

I just hope that anyone that is surprised parties doing these kinds of things wakes up and start asking for better civil servants. Or maybe have a long, hard pondering on if we should give that 8-year old girl that found a sword a try.


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Interested in reading more about democracy? I have written a book review on “Democracy: The God that Failed“, Hans-Herman Hoppes fantastic book on this subject.

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