Sweden’s big election day came and went yesterday without much fanfare or fallout, at least for the non-voting American whose most pressing concern of the day was trying to track down the best gelato in Gamla Stan. Not so for the Swedes of the Bonnier office, though. I’ve seen some sad faces before — especially on Monday mornings — but wow, today was a real bummer. It turns out, elections are a giant horse kick to the head no matter where you live. Even if you win.
As in the states, the months leading up to the elections here are crammed with campaign speeches, sidewalk rallies and overly sentimental political ads — but since all of these things have been in Swedish, I haven’t been able to figure out which party is the most annoying here. What I do know is that both of the two primary parties (here, coalitions) failed to grab a majority of seats, and for the first time in the country’s history, a polarizing extremist party (a neo-nazi party known as the Sweden Democrats) was able to secure nearly 6 percent of the vote, giving them 20 seats and a way to flex their ideological muscles on future policy.
The current “center-right four-party coalition” (you thought our system was confusing?) did hang on to power with 49.3 percent — so close yet so far away! — but without an outright majority, they’re going to have a hell of a time trying to get anything done. And the “red-green three-party opposition coalition” (these are real names, I’m not even embellishing like I’m prone to do), who finished with 43.7 percent, are really in the dumps. Both of these long-named coalitions will now need to kowtow to the vilified Sweden Democrats to get anything done, but to really complicate things, both groups have sworn not to.
You glossed over this entire blog post didn’t you? Because it started with “politics” in the title and it had numbers and words like coalition and ideological in it. It’s ok, I don’t think I explained this very well anyway, and certainly you shouldn’t quote me on any of it because this is just a blog. I know you’re tempted…I know you can’t wait to call your mom and be like, “you will never believe what Reagan’s blog just told me” but don’t — read the actual story on CNN or something, since I assume those people have done more homework than having a chat with their melancholy Swedish coworkers over rostbiff och potatis in the cafeteria.
Tomorrow, to balance the scales of content, I will blog about something superfluous once again. That’s my promise to you.