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.
Mr. Reinfeldt’s defeat now is a blow for two of his fellow conservative leaders within the European Union, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Mr. Reinfeldt was often a reliable ally on the EU stage in advocating for more market-friendly policies and efforts to improve the bloc’s competitiveness.
The change of government in Sweden also will end the mandate of two well-known lawmakers in the European political arena: Finance Minister Anders Borg and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt. Mr. Borg has been a high-profile advocate of fiscal prudence in Europe during the financial crisis, while Mr. Bildt has been a vocal critic of Russia over its actions in Ukraine.
The strong showing of the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats—whose share of votes climbed to 13% from 5.7% in the 2010 election—surprised pollsters. Their opposition strength in parliament also could force Mr. Lofven to recruit a center-right party to his coalition to ensure he can drive through policies.
Full Article: Sweden’s Left Victorious in Elections – WSJ.