Magazine article Global Finance

Will Löfven Be the Next PM?

Magazine article Global Finance

Will Löfven Be the Next PM?

Article excerpt

SWEDEN

Known as a credible and pragmatic politician, the leader of Sweden's Social Democratic party, Stefan Löfven, is gearing up to become the country's next prime minister. Current center-right PM Fredrik Reinfeldt of the Moderate Party has been in power for eight years, and polls strongly suggest that voters are ready to give the Social Democrats, who, until 2006, had long dominated Swedish politics, their shot at forming a government in the general elections, scheduled for September 14.

"Eight years of governing is a long time in contemporary politics," says Lars Nord, a political scientist and professor of political communication at Mid Sweden University in Sundsvall. "There are many winners [as a result] of the center-right coalition, especially in the urban middle class, but still most people are dissatisfied with the developments in important noneconomic areas."

Although Reinfeldt is credited with having successfully steered Sweden through the global financial crisis, his strategy of focusing on tax cuts, and the subsequent weakening of public services-in particular, health care, education and housing-no longer appeals to voters, who now appear keen on Löfven s platform of an increased fiscal burden in exchange for a bolstered social safety net. Higher-than-desired unemployment (at 9.2% in June), particularly among the young, is also a key issue in this campaign. "Unemployment has increased during the years the center-right alliance has been in power, and Löfven criticizes the government for prioritizing tax cuts instead of creating new jobs," says Ulf Bjereld, professor of political science at the University of Gothenburg. …

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