The Young Fabians are observing the EU MEP elections this year. You can find our publications here.
Alongside publications, we will be producing blogs throughout the campaign. Joe Corry Roake writes on recent polling in Sweden and what this means for the upcoming elections.
Sweden has just come through a long drawn out process in their national politics. Their Parliamentary elections took place back in September but a new government was only, finally, formed in January. After a lot of wrangling and a big focus on domestic issues, Sweden finally had a government - made up of a minority Social Democratic-Green Party coalition with parliamentary support from the Liberal and Centre parties.
With that confirmed, Sweden is finally able to start thinking about the European Parliament Elections later this year and the first polling about those elections came out last week based on telephone interviews with 1 537 people between the 20th and 25th of February.
With the European elections coming so soon after the national elections, will the posturing and toing and froing during the negotiations for the governing coalition have made a difference? While it would be easy and pretty understandable for Swedes to have election fatigue, or at the very least have become frustrated about politics and politicians, in this first poll, just over 70 percent said that they will or probably will vote in May. If that happens, this would be a huge increase in comparison to previous European elections.
Due to the national elections, the parties have only properly started gearing up for the European elections recently, with some candidates still to be selected and only one party, the far-right Swedish Democrats with any real Europe related announcement. In a big move, they left behind their calls for ‘Swexit’, dropped calls to leave the European Union and instead set out a strategy of changing the EU from the inside claiming that they recognise that membership does bring some benefits.
This move means that all of the main political parties agree on the basic premise of continued Swedish membership of the European Union, a position firmly in line with views of the vast majority of Swedish public. Polling in October showed a total of 77% of Swedish respondents thought EU membership was a good thing (the highest recorded level since 2007) and only 7% thought it was a bad thing.
So what does the polling show at this stage?
Based on the current proposed redistribution of UK seats there are 21 seats up for grabs.
The Swedish Democrats could double their seats from two to four as they increased their vote to 18% from 9.7%. This would keep them at approximately the same voter percentage as the national elections potentially further cementing them as the third largest party in Sweden and signalling a future of minority governments.
Meanwhile, the Liberal and Feminist Parties look to be the biggest losers with both at serious risk of leaving the European Parliament altogether; down to 3.7% and 1.2% from 9.9% and 5.5% respectively.
As a more mixed bag, the Green’s find themselves potentially down since 2014 and in danger of losing two positions but up in slightly comparison to the national elections.
However, with over a third of those surveyed admitting they still didn’t know which party they would vote for, there is a lot that could still change.
Joe Corry Roake is a Young Fabian and contributor to the EU Election project.
Follow him on Twitter at @JOECORRYROAKE