A new opinion poll has shown that the current reigning government party is gaining traction. Technically, the two main parties are in various cahoots with other parties. Different forms of alliances. I’m going to stick with Moderaterna and Socialdemokraterna. The Moderates and the Social Democrats. It just makes it a little bit easier.
Anyway, the Social Democrats are currently sitting at about 50%. The Moderates at 46.1%. And Fredrik Reinfeldt of the Moderate party is starting to run away with the confidence of the Swedish people. Mona Sahlin of the Social Democrats is struggling horribly and should maybe just run away.
The interesting thing here is that the Moderates have gained support as the financial crisis has deepened. A lot of support actually. Some people argue that this isn’t all that surprising. That in times of crisis a country rallies around their government. Others argue that it is due to a few key decisions made by the government. Their refusal to bail out Saab with Swedish tax payer money and their plan to allow nuclear power once more. Of course, the nuclear decision has little direct bearing on the financial crisis. But give the people what they want and it seems they will forgive you your shortcomings.
When I moved here, my knowledge of Swedish politics was scant. I had learned Swedish politics from a historical perspective. That much like the ebbs and flows of the business cycle, Sweden has seen a similar pattern with the conservative party taking power for a short amount of time between long stretches of Social Democratic rule. The longer I stay here, the more I learn.
I still don’t pretend to know much about Swedish politics. I know the basics. Coupled with my historic knowledge of Swedish politics I’ve managed to form some opinions. I can hold a halfway intelligent conversation about politics in Sweden, granted speckled with a few English words here and there because my political vocabulary in Swedish still lags behind sometimes. But I keep tabs on what is going on. And as an American in Sweden, the political scene is so very different from that which I am used to.
So when I saw the headlines about the opinion polls, I wasn’t at all expecting to read about the Moderates gaining support. They were in power as the financial crisis began. They are in power as it has only grown worse. They will probably be in power as it reaches its peak. It seems like they would be easy scapegoats for so many Swedes. I was expecting the Moderates to be destroyed in the press. Abandoned by the Swedish population. Apparently I was wrong.
Maybe I have become jaded and just expect anything that even resembles some sort of conservative movement in Sweden to be immediately shot down. Or maybe the Swedish mindset is slowly changing. A conservative (granted a Swedish version of conservative) government was voted into power. While they have taken their share of abuse and low opinion polls, they are gaining popularity through their handling of the crisis as the next election gets closer.
They have lowered taxes. They have sold off certain assets that have been historically government run. They are in the process breaking up the monopolized pharmacies. Apoteket. What has for so long been known as the Swedish model is slowly changing. Some might argue eroding. Others evolving. But it is changing. Could the Moderates actually be re-elected? And if so, what does this mean for the Swedish model? Or is this simply one of those conservative cycles that Sweden has historically seen in politics?
Welcome to Sweden. Where some semblance of conservatism lives on.