Russia could try to influence the outcome of national elections in Sweden in September if authorities in Moscow feel their strategic interests are threatened, the Swedish security service said on Thursday. The service’s head of counter-intelligence, Daniel Stenling, cited membership of NATO – which Sweden has debated joining – and security around the Baltic Sea as two important issues for Russia. “Russian espionage is still the biggest threat to Sweden,” he told an annual press briefing. “We see that Russia has an intention to influence individual issues that are of strategic importance. If these issues become central in the election campaign, we can expect attempts at Russian influence.” Stenling declined to say if his force had already seen evidence of such attempts.
Articles about voting issues in the Kingdom of Sweden.
Sweden: Sweden is taking on Russian meddling ahead of fall elections. The White House might take note. | The Washington Post
Hundreds of local election workers have been trained to spot and resist foreign influence. The country’s biggest media outlets have teamed up to combat false news. Political parties scour their email systems to close hacker-friendly holes. The goal: to Russia-proof Sweden’s political system so that what happened in the United States in 2016 can never happen in this Nordic country of 10 million people. Although the general election isn’t until Sept. 9, officials say their preemptive actions may already have dissuaded the Kremlin from interfering.
Sweden aims to create a new public body to protect its upcoming election from Russian and other propaganda. “It is now less than eight months left to the finest day in Sweden’s democratic life, our election day … [and] only Swedish voters will determine the outcome,” Swedish prime minister Stefan Loefven said at a security conference in Stockholm on Sunday (14 January). “To the one or those who are considering trying to influence … our country: stay away!”, he said. Loefven said the main threat came from Russia, but he added that “we can not rule out that there may be others” who would try to influence the Swedish vote on 9 September.
Sweden’s government on Saturday announced a deal with the opposition that will avert the country’s first snap elections in more than half a century and counter the rising influence of the anti-immigrant far right. The deal announced by Prime Minister Stefan Loefven, in office for less than three months, will see the minority center-left government remain in power. The far right has however threatened a no-confidence vote. Loefven had called early elections this month after the populist and anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats torpedoed his fledgling government’s budget. The crisis had dealt a severe blow to Sweden’s self-image as a tolerant nation and illustrated the rising political fortunes of anti-immigrant parties in much of Europe.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven called the country’s first snap election in decades after a fringe populist party derailed his efforts to gather support for his first budget proposal. The decision, announced Wednesday, marks a rare moment of political drama in a country long known for the stability of its politics and the willingness of opposition lawmakers to work together to find solutions. The election, which is scheduled to be held March 22, would be Sweden’s first snap election since 1958. A decision the day before by the opposition, anti-immigration Sweden Democrats to back an alternative center-right budget plan effectively doomed the Social Democrat prime minister’s budget proposal, leaving him with a spending plan penned by political foes.
Sweden: Social Democrat Leader Stefan Lofven Defeats Incumbent Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt | Wall Street Journal
Sweden’s Social Democrat Leader Stefan Lofven defeated incumbent Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt in parliamentary elections on Sunday, signaling the return of a left-leaning government after eight years in opposition. The shift reflected concerns among the Swedish electorate that Mr. Reinfeldt’s pro-market policies have chipped away at the country’s cherished welfare state. Mr. Reinfeldt said he would resign as prime minister on Monday and as leader of his party by spring. Mr. Lofven, though, still faces tough negotiations with left-leaning allies over forming a coalition government after failing to secure an absolute majority. With nearly all votes counted, results from Sweden’s election authority showed the Social Democrats won 31.1% of the vote, largely unchanged from the last election in 2010, while Mr. Reinfeldt’s Moderate Party slumped to 23.2%, from 30.1% at the last election. Though the two parties won nearly the same amount of votes four years ago, Mr. Reinfeldt’s Moderates were then able to cobble together a larger center-right alliance of parties.
It might not appear the most obvious place to launch an election campaign. Most of those present are teenagers not old enough to vote, slouching on beanbags, texting or nodding their heads to the beat on their headphones. In a classroom plastered with posters of boybands, trainee hairdressers barely look up from their model wigs as Stefan Löfven, a Social Democrat who wants to be Sweden’s next prime minister, whizzes through the room. Yet in many ways Stockholm’s Grillska high school is the perfect launchpad for the centre-left party to orchestrate a political comeback after eight years out of government, the longest spell in its history. The school encapsulates Sweden’s much-admired public-private approach to solving the social-budgetary conundrums facing European economies – and its shortcomings. Formerly called John Bauergymnasiet, Grillska used to be one of Sweden’s publicly funded but privately run friskolor (free schools) until its owner, the Danish private equity company Axcel, filed for bankruptcy last April.
Sweden, seen for years as a beacon of stability and reforms in a crisis-ridden Europe, may be heading for political deadlock after Sunday’s general election, with polls suggesting that both right and left might be unable to form a stable government. Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s center-right coalition is battling an opposition alliance led by the Social Democrats. But neither group looks set to win a majority – putting them at the mercy of more radical leftist or far-right parties. The Social Democrats, campaigning to spend more money on a welfare state that they founded in the last century, were the election favorites for months. But some polls suggest a once seemingly unassailable lead has narrowed, unsettling businesses and investors and even raising the prospect of a new vote. “It could be an Italian situation, something we’ve hardly ever experienced in Sweden,” said Magnus Henrekson, Director of the Research Institute of Industrial Economics. An increasingly likely scenario is that Social Democrat leader Stefan Lofven will head the biggest party but struggle to cobble together a majority. Even if he won the support of a former communist party, he could still be in a minority against the far right and Reinfeldt’s coalition.
Swedish voters are now less likely to oust the government of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on Sept. 14 than they were just a week ago. The Social Democrat-led opposition’s lead has narrowed to 4.5 points in the latest poll by Sifo — the smallest difference since May last year — from 7.3 points a week earlier and 9.8 a month earlier. The shift toward the government follows presentations by the main parties revealing their policy goals for the next four years. “We’re talking about 135,000 voters for things to become completely even, and that’s of course not a huge number,” said Toivo Sjoeren, head of opinion research at TNS Sifo in Stockholm, by phone. He says history indicates that even after narrowing, the margin remains too wide for Reinfeldt to be re-elected. “On the other hand, you actually never know.”
While most Swedes wait until the elections are on the doorstep, the polls are now open for those who’ve made up their mind already. But early voting has become all the more popular in Sweden, reported the TT news agency. In the 2010 elections, 39.4 percent of voters cast their ballot early, compared to just 31.8 percent in 2006. This year, voting cards have been sent out to 7.6 million Swedes. There are around 3,000 spots around the country where they can cast their early votes, too.