2010 Swedish General Election
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2010 Swedish General Election

Swedish general election, 2010[1]

← 2006 19 September 2010 2014 →

All 349 seats to the Riksdag
175 seats are needed for a majority
  First party Second party Third party
  Mona Sahlin 2010 100x113px.jpg Fredrik-reinfeldt-alliance-cropped.jpg Peter Eriksson and Maria Wetterstrand.jpg
Leader Mona Sahlin Fredrik Reinfeldt Peter Eriksson
Maria Wetterstrand
Party Social Democratic Moderate Green
Alliance Red-Greens The Alliance Red-Greens
Last election 130 97 19
Seats won 112 107 25
Seat change Decrease18 Increase10 Increase6
Popular vote 1,827,497 1,791,766 437,435
Percentage 30.7% 30.1% 7.3%
Swing Decrease4.3% Increase3.9% Increase2.1%

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
  Jan Björklund 2010 100x113px.jpg Maud Olofsson 2005 100x113px.jpg Jimmie Åkesson 2010 100x113px.jpg
Leader Jan Björklund Maud Olofsson Jimmie Åkesson
Party Liberal People's Centre Sweden Democrats
Alliance The Alliance The Alliance None
Last election 28 29 0
Seats won 24 23 20
Seat change Decrease4 Decrease6 Increase20
Popular vote 420,524 390,804 339,610
Percentage 7.1% 6.6% 5.7%
Swing Decrease0.4% Decrease1.3% Increase3.7%

  Seventh party Eighth party
  Lars Ohly 2.jpg GöranHägglund-oppositionLeadersAtThe2006SwedenElections.jpg
Leader Lars Ohly Göran Hägglund
Party Left Christian Democrats
Alliance Red-Greens The Alliance
Last election 22 24
Seats won 19 19
Seat change Decrease3 Decrease5
Popular vote 334,053 333,696
Percentage 5.6% 5.6%
Swing Decrease0.3% Decrease1.0%

Swedish General Election 2010.png
Largest party by constituency (left) and municipality (right) Red-Social Democratic, Blue-Moderate

General elections were held in Sweden on 19 September 2010 to elect the 349 members of the Riksdag. The main contenders of the election were the governing centre-right coalition the Alliance, consisting of the Moderate Party, the Centre Party, the Liberal People's Party and the Christian Democrats; and the opposition centre-left coalition the Red-Greens, consisting of the Social Democrats, the Left Party and the Green Party.

The Alliance received 49.27 percent of the votes (an increase by 1.03 pp from the previous election) and 173 seats in the parliament (a decrease by 5 seats and 2 short of an overall majority), while the Red-Greens received 43.60 percent of the vote (a decrease by 2.48 pp) and 156 seats (a decrease by 15 seats).[1] The election also saw the nationalist Sweden Democrats entering parliament for the first time, as the sixth largest and only non-aligned of the eight parties elected to the parliament, by receiving 5.70 percent of the votes (an increase by 2.77 pp) and 20 seats.[1] Both in terms of percentage share; 30.06%, and the actual vote; 1,791,766, the Moderate Party did its strongest election of the unicameral parliamentary era, narrowly missing out on beating the Social Democrats to become the largest party.[2] The Alliance dominated the Stockholm capital region of the municipality and county and made further gains in South Sweden including narrowly flipping Malmö blue as well as winning pluralities in traditionally red towns such as Kalmar, Landskrona and Trelleborg.[1]

The Alliance lost its absolute majority in the parliament but continued to govern as a minority government. The new parliament held its opening session on 5 October, with Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt presenting the annual government policy statement, along with changes to his cabinet.[3]

This was the first time in almost a century that a Swedish centre-right government that had served a full term was reelected.[4]


There were 5,960,408 valid ballots cast for a turnout of 84.63%.[5]

Coalition dominance by municipality (colors aggravated, not linearly proportional).
Relative support of the Sweden Democrats by municipality.
Sweden Riksdag 2010.svg
Summary of the 19 September 2010 Parliament of Sweden election results
Parties and coalitions Votes Permanent seats Adjustment seats Total seats seats %/votes %
# ± % ±% # ± # ± seats swing
  Swedish Social Democratic Party
Socialdemokratiska arbetarpartiet
1,827,497 Decrease115,128 30.66 Decrease4.33 112 Decrease18 0 Steady 0 112 Decrease18 1.05
  Moderate Party
Moderata samlingspartiet
1,791,766 Increase335,752 30.06 Increase3.83 107 Increase10 0 Steady 0 107 Increase10 1.02
  Green Party
Miljöpartiet de Gröna
437,435 Increase146,314 7.34 Increase2.09 19 Increase10 6 Decrease4 25 Increase6 0.98
  Liberal People's Party
Folkpartiet liberalerna
420,524 Decrease2,129 7.06 Decrease0.48 17 Decrease5 7 Increase1 24 Decrease4 0.97
  Centre Party
390,804 Decrease46,585 6.56 Decrease1.32 21 Decrease6 2 Steady 0 23 Decrease6 1.01
  Sweden Democrats
339,610 Increase177,147 5.70 Increase2.77 14 Increase14 6 Increase6 20 Increase20 1.01
  Left Party
334,053 Increase9,331 5.60 Decrease0.24 9 Decrease4 10 Increase1 19 Decrease3 0.97
  Christian Democrats
333,696 Decrease32,302 5.60 Decrease0.99 11 Decrease6 8 Increase1 19 Decrease5 0.97
  Pirate Party
38,491 Increase3,573 0.65 Increase0.02 0 - 0 - 0 - 0.00
  Feminist Initiative
Feministiskt initiativ
24,139 Decrease13,815 0.40 Decrease0.28 0 - 0 - 0 - 0.00
  Swedish Senior Citizen Interest Party
Sveriges pensionärers intresseparti
11,078 Decrease17,728 0.19 Decrease0.33 0 - 0 - 0 - 0.00
  Rural Democrats
1,565 Increase1,565 0.03 Increase0.03 0 - 0 - 0 - 0.00
  Socialist Justice Party
Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna
1,507 Increase410 0.03 Increase0.01 0 - 0 - 0 - 0.00
  Norrland Coalition Party
Norrländska Samlingspartiet
1,456 Increase1,456 0.02 Increase0.02 0 - 0 - 0 - 0.00
  National Democrats
1,141 Decrease1,923 0.02 Decrease0.04 0 - 0 - 0 - 0.00
  Classical Liberal Party
Klassiskt Liberala Partiet
716 Increase514 0.01 Increase0.01 0 - 0 - 0 - 0.00
  Freedom Party
688 Increase688 0.01 Increase0.01 0 - 0 - 0 - 0.00
  Party of the Swedes
Svenskarnas Parti
681 Increase681 0.01 Increase0.01 0 - 0 - 0 - 0.00
632 Decrease2,016 0.01 Decrease0.04 0 - 0 - 0 - 0.00
  Parties with less than 500 votes 2,929 Decrease1,837 0.05 Decrease0.03 - - - - - - 0.00
  The Alliance
(Moderate Party, Liberal People's Party,
Centre Party, Christian Democrats)
2,936,790 Increase258,994 49.27 Increase1.03 156 Decrease3 17 Decrease2 173 Decrease5 1.01
(Social Democrats, Green Party, Left Party)[7]
2,598,985 Increase40,517 43.60 Decrease2.48 140 Decrease11 16 Decrease4 156 Decrease15 1.03
All parties total 5,960,408 Increase409,130 100.00% - 310 - 39 - 349 - -
  Blank votes 65,938 Decrease32,494 1.09 Decrease0.62  
  Other invalid votes 2,336 Increase120 0.04 Steady 0.00  
Eligible voters 7,123,651 Increase231,642  
Turnout 6,028,682 Increase378,266 84.63% Increase2.64  

Source: Valresultat

Popular vote
Parliament seats


One of the main campaign themes was the Economy of Sweden.[8]

The Sweden Democrats (SD) stated that it wished to cut political asylum and family reunification immigration by 90 percent.[9] The SD leader Jimmie Åkesson wrote, in an opinion piece for the social-democratic tabloid Aftonbladet that the growth of the country's Muslim population "is the greatest foreign threat to Sweden since the Second World War."[10][11]

The parties already represented in the Swedish parliament, along with the Swedish television networks, excluded minor parties from the televised political debates. The excluded minor parties included the Sweden Democrats,[12] the June List, the Feminist Initiative, and the Pirate Party.[]


After the election in September 2006, the Alliance slipped well behind the opposition in the polls. A Sifo poll conducted in February 2008 showed the opposition leading the Alliance by 19.4%. However, this lead steadily eroded during the second half of the Alliance's term, despite the opposition's uniting in the Red-Green co-operation in December 2008.

Campaign posters in Stockholm
Poll performance 2006-2010: Key parties
? Red-Green coalition ? Social Democratic Party ? The Alliance ? Moderate Party

The Sweden Democrats were expected[by whom?] to enter the Parliament for the first time, as the party's polling results had exceeded the 4% entry threshold since June 2009. The Green Party had also made a significant transformation from the smallest elected party to the third largest party during the term, overtaking the Left Party, the Christian Democrats, the Liberals and even the Centre Party in most polls following the 2006 election.

Poll performance 2006-2010: Small parties
? Green Party ? Liberal People's Party ? Centre Party ? Left Party ? Christian Democrats ? Sweden Democrats ? Other

Controversy about Sweden Democrats

The final election debate on SVT. Party leaders Hägglund (KD), Ohly (V), Björklund (FP), Sahlin (S), Reinfeldt (M), Wetterstrand (MP), and Olofsson (C).

The Sweden Democrats generated controversy before the election.[12] Both the Alliance and the Red-Greens pledged not to seek support from the SD,[10] with Reinfeldt ruling out forming a government in cooperation with the Sweden Democrats.[8]

A privately owned television network, TV4, refused to air a SD campaign video, which was then uploaded to YouTube and viewed more than one million times. The SD video portrayed a track-meet, in which the race is for pension funds. In the video, a Swedish pensioner is outrun by burka-clad women with prams.[12][13]

Several politicians in Denmark, initially from the Danish People's Party and later from the governing Venstre and the Conservative People's Party, reacted to TV4's refusal to air the video by calling for international election observers to be sent to Sweden.[14][15] Pia Kjærsgaard, leader of the Danish People's Party, claimed that the election reminded her of "Eastern Europe", and that Sweden was the "banana republic" of the Nordic countries.[14] Per-Willy Amundsen of the Norwegian Progress Party also criticised the decision as a "violation of democratic rules."[16]


On 13 September in Gothenburg, about 500 counter-demonstrators prevented the Sweden Democrats from making a planned election rally.[17] Police used pepper spray to disperse the counter-demonstration, which lacked a permit, and seven counter-demonstrators were detained.[17] On 14 September, the Sweden Democrats cancelled planned rallies in three cities, Eskilstuna, Karlstad, and Uddevalla, because of security concerns. Similarly, concerns about security led to an election tour being cancelled on 15 September in Norrköping.[18][19]

After these cancelled election rallies, the National Police Commissioner Bengt Svenson severely criticized the county police for failing to safeguard the Sweden Democrats: "If it is not possible to protect them [in those locales], the police have failed in its planning and execution of its mission. [ . . . ] It is a serious problem when such meetings cannot be held, because it is our absolute duty to ensure that the constitutionally guaranteed rights be maintained and that all meetings can be held".[20]


These attempts to limit the SD message were described by Al Jazeera as counterproductive, in that they enabled the SD to portray itself as a victim of censorship.[12]

Similarly, Hanne Kjöller of Dagens Nyheter hypothesised that the attacks strengthened the Sweden Democrats rather than hurting the party's support base. "Jimmie Åkesson becomes a poor underdog and the picture of a party that is holding some dangerous but important truth is enhanced. The Sweden Democrats should send flowers to the left-wing extremists, thanking them for the publicity."[21]


As exit polls conducted by the national broadcaster Swedish Television predicted, the Sweden Democrats reached the 4% threshold needed to enter parliament, making this election the first in which they were able to enter parliament.[10]

A preliminary count of 5,668 voting districts showed the Alliance with 172 seats, ahead of the Red-Greens.[22] However, this fell short of the 175 seats needed for an absolute majority, and it appeared the Sweden Democrats would hold the balance of power in the new parliament.[23][24] Reinfeldt declared that he had no intention to cooperate with the Sweden Democrats.[25]

On 23 September, the final results showed the Centre Party gaining an adjustment seat in Dalarna, giving the Alliance a total seat count of 173, still two seats short of an absolute majority.[1] The Alliance's Liberal People's Party were only 7 and 19 votes short from gaining additional seats in Gothenburg and Värmland respectively,[26] but according to Svante Linusson, a professor in mathematics, the actual margin was still over 800 votes.[27][28]

On the day after the election, rallies against the Sweden Democrats took place in a number of Swedish cities. Reports indicated that 10,000 people were estimated to have marched in Stockholm under banners reading "We are ashamed", "No racists in Parliament",[29] and "Refugees – welcome!". In Gothenburg, 5,000 people took part in a "sorrow march against racism", and 2,000 people marched in Malmö. Support for the Sweden Democrats was strongest in the southernmost province Scania, where the party received about 10% percent of the vote, and in the neighbouring province Blekinge, where they received 9.8 percent; the foreign media quoted "some people" from further north of the country as calling for Scania to be handed back to Denmark, where the Danish People's Party were seen as an inspiration for the SD.[]

Liberal evening tabloid Expressen wrote in an editorial "The banner of tolerance has been hauled down and the forces of darkness have finally also taken the Swedish democracy as hostage. It's a day of sorrow." Liberal conservative morning newspaper Svenska Dagbladet said "[It is] time for the Swedes to get themselves a new national self-image [as the election] created a new picture of Sweden".[30]


"While it's hard to say that Sweden has woken up to a new self-image, one can say that this is more like a normal European situation and is similar to other western European countries with a proportional election system, where a populist right-wing party has seats in parliament. It's the party that is the least liked among other voters, so it is not surprising that people have reacted with dismay". Carl Dahlstroem, professor of politics at Gothenburg University.[30]

The election was a landmark for its impact on the Social Democrats, which had been in government for 65 of the last 78 years and who had never lost two consecutive elections. This was their worst result since universal suffrage in 1921. Swedish political scientist Stig-Björn Ljunggren said "The Social Democrats no longer symbolise the Swedish model. They've lost their magic." The Dagens Nyheter postulated that electoral failure was based on internal factors, such that the Social Democrats failed to win over the middle class and had completely lost touch with their original vision, which had made them a dominant political party.[31]

The Irish Times saw the rise of the SD as sending "ripples of shock not only through the country but through European politics," and asked "Is this finally it for the 'Swedish model'" that has been represented as a "meld of liberal values, high taxes, outstanding childcare and welfare that made the country the poster boy for European social democracy?" The Social Democrats' failure reflected the party's inability to adapt, an increasingly technocratic profile, a failure to address immigration concerns, as well as Reinfeldt's success in managing the economy. The results draws parallels with a larger decline of European left parties.[32] An article in Al Jazeera English asked if Western political dynamics were changing following the Swedish and United States elections. The article said that predictions after the election indicated "an entirely new political landscape" and "the beginning of an era of sharper political division in Sweden." It asked if the similar results "reflect rather an underlying continuity in the generation-long evolution of Euro-American politics towards a fully neoliberalised system" and that Sweden seemed to be "moving towards an outdated model." It also said that, while social policies were similarly moving to the right, economic policies were poles apart, with the emergence of far-right parties in Sweden and Denmark still supporting the welfare state and the American parties remaining on the economic right-wing.[33]

The case of Annika Holmqvist, a seriously ill 55-year-old woman who had her sickness benefits withdrawn and was requested to seek work, allegedly due to the Alliance's reforms of Sweden's social security system, gave the opposition a late boost in its campaign. The Local thinks it might have deprived the Alliance of an overall majority. Holmqvist's daughter wrote about her case in a web log post that gained publicity and became a hot topic in the debates. In spite of promises of a solution, after the election it was decided Holmqvist will lose her illness[] benefits.[34][35][36]

The Moderate Party was still seen as one of the big winners of the election because of its "well-executed campaign" that emphasised Sweden's "remarkable political and economic stability in a turbulent world" after Sweden weathered the recession; despite mass unemployment, the economic growth in 2010 was the highest in Western Europe.[8]

Government formation

The Alliance formed the new government with Reinfeldt continuing as prime minister. His cabinet has 24 ministers, three more than the previous one. The Moderates received 13 posts, an increase of three from their previous count, with the Liberals (4), Centre (4) and Christian Democrats (3) not gaining or losing ministers. Jan Björklund, the leader of the Liberal Party, was promoted to Deputy Prime Minister replacing Maud Olofsson. Carl Bildt remained Foreign Minister and Anders Borg remained Minister for Finance. The new ministers are Stefan Attefall, the Minister for Public Administration and Housing at the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs; Ulf Kristersson, replacing Cristina Husmark Pehrsson as Minister for Social Security; Erik Ullenhag, the Minister for Integration at the Ministry of Employment; Hillevi Engström, the Minister for Employment; Anna-Karin Hatt, the Minister for Information Technology and Regional Affairs at the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications; Peter Norman, replacing Mats Odell as Minister for Financial Markets; and Catharina Elmsäter-Svärd, replacing Åsa Torstensson as Minister for Communications. Tobias Krantz, former Minister of Higher Education at the Ministry of Education and Research, is leaving with no successor having been named.[37]

Reinfeldt issued a 30-page statement of the new government's policies, saying it would "seek a broad-based and responsible solutions (sic)", and that it would "be natural...to hold regular discussions with the Green Party, in the first instance and also the Social Democratic Party where appropriate."[38]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Val till riksdagen - Röster" (in Swedish). Swedish Election Authority. 23 September 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  2. ^ "Röster - Val 2010". Valmyndigheten. 23 September 2010. Retrieved 2019.
  3. ^ "Reinfeldt unveils reshuffled cabinet". The Local. 5 October 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  4. ^ "Sweden braces for rollercoaster election". The Local. 19 September 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  5. ^ "Röster - Val 2010" (in Swedish). Valmyndigheten. 23 September 2010. Retrieved 2019.
  6. ^ "Val till riksdagen-Röster- Sjöbo". Val.se. 22 September 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  7. ^ with Feminist Initiative -2.76 %
  8. ^ a b c "Economy trumps welfare worries in tight Swedish election - The Local". Thelocal.se. 22 September 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  9. ^ My Rohwedder Street and Anders Silvergren Blåder (31 May 2010) "SD:s budget: Minskad invandring ska spara miljarder" Archived 4 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine Sveriges Television
  10. ^ a b c Wikstrom, Cajsa (20 September 2010). "Swedish ruling bloc retains power". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 2010.
  11. ^ Jimmie Åkesson (19 October 2009) "'Muslimerna är vårt största utländska hot'" Aftonbladet Debatt
  12. ^ a b c d Wikstrom, Cajsa (19 September 2010). "Far-right tests Swedish tolerance". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 2010.
  13. ^ SDReklam2010 (26 August 2010), Sverigedemokraternas valfilm 2010, retrieved 2017
  14. ^ a b Halle, Jon Robin (3 September 2010). "Skandinavisk "krig" før valget". Aftenposten (in Norwegian). Archived from the original on 6 September 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  15. ^ Danish Politicians Call for Election Observers in Sweden Der Spiegel 1 September 2010
  16. ^ "Frp: - Svensk brudd på demokratiske spilleregler". Verdens Gang (NTB) (in Norwegian). 31 August 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  17. ^ a b "Demonstrators stopped the SD meeting". Profile. 13 September 2010. Archived from the original on 16 September 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  18. ^ Brandel, Tobias (15 September 2010). "SD kan inte hålla möten". Svenska Dagbladet. Retrieved 2010.
  19. ^ Engstrom, Henry (15 September 2010). "threatened SD meeting was canceled". Folkbladet. Archived from the original on 20 October 2017. Retrieved 2010.
  20. ^ "National Police Commissioner criticizes police Värmland". Sveriges Television. 16 September 2010. Archived from the original on 18 September 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  21. ^ "Sverigedemokraterna: Blommogram till extremvänstern" Dagens Nyheter 18 September 2010
  22. ^ "Val till riksdagen - Valnatt" (in Swedish). val.se. 20 September 2010. Archived from the original on 16 September 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  23. ^ McGuinness, Damien (20 September 2010). "Sweden narrowly re-elects centre-right alliance". BBC Online. Retrieved 2010.
  24. ^ Lannin, Patrick (20 September 2010). "Swedish centre-right wins ballot but loses majority". Reuters. Retrieved 2010.
  25. ^ Stiernstedt, Jenny (20 September 2010). "Alliansen segrar - SD blir vågmästare". Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 2010.
  26. ^ "Alliansens majoritetsdröm upp i rök" (in Swedish). DN.se. 23 September 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  27. ^ "Rösterna är färdigräknade" (in Swedish). SvD.se. 23 September 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  28. ^ Superrysare, Aftonbladet
  29. ^ "Mass demonstration: We are ashamed" Archived 8 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Sveriges Radio.
  30. ^ a b Magnusson, Niklas (21 September 2010). "Swedes Protest on Streets as Anti-Immigrants Enter Parliament". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2010.
  31. ^ "'Swedish model' party in crisis". Swedishwire.com. Archived from the original on 24 September 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  32. ^ "Sweden's right - The Irish Times - Wed, Sep 22, 2010". The Irish Times. 22 September 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  33. ^ LeVine, Mark. "Nowhere left to run". english.aljazeera.net. Retrieved 2018.
  34. ^ Reinfeldt rocked by 'chlamydia letter', The Local, 19 September 2010
  35. ^ 'Chlamydia letter' blogger deprived of benefits, The Local, 21 September 2010.
  36. ^ John Aravosis. "How a young woman's blog post is changing the Swedish elections". americablog.com. Archived from the original on 19 September 2010. Retrieved 2018.
  37. ^ "Reinfeldts nya regering" (in Swedish). DN.se. 5 October 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  38. ^ "Swedish PM Announces his New Cabinet, Policies". english.cri.cn. Retrieved 2018.

External links

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