July 27, 2017
Things are moving fast in the Swedish transport agency data leak scandal. Yesterday the Alliance - the Swedish right-wing opposition consisting of the Moderates, Centre, Liberal, and Christian Democratic (KD) parties - called a no-confidence motion against three ministers. The Local has a background piece on Swedish no-confidence motions. But it may not come to that. PM Stefan Löfven has called a press conference for 10am this morning, and apart from braving the motion, he has the options of dismissing the ministers himself, resigning his whole cabinet, or calling snap elections.
Löfven can inflict maximum damage on the opposition by actually resigning, argues Lena Mellin in a column at Aftonposten. The reason is that the Alliance is ambivalent about working with the right-wing populist Swedish Democrats, which holds the balance in the Riksdag with 47 out of 349 seats. If Löfven resigns he splits the Alliance, with Centre and Liberals opposed to working with the SD, the smaller Christian Democrats in favour, and the larger Moderates currently on the fence. If the Alliance failed to muster a majority, Löfven could be re-elected and the Alliance would look both petty and ineffectual just one year before the next general election. The proximity of the next election would make it hard for a new Alliance cabinet to get its bearings before having to go to the polls again. Finally snap elections, while riskier, would have almost the same effect because the balance in the Riksdag would be similar and, due to a quirk of the Swedish constitution, snap elections don't reset the electoral clock and the 2018 election would still proceed as scheduled.
According to election polls, which don't reflect the scandal yet, if elections were held now the Swedish Democrats would overtake the Moderates to come second to the Social Democrats. The Moderates have also lost support, apparently to Centre, partly because of their openness to working with the Swedish Democrats. The Christian Democrats, in addition, are at risk of missing the 4% to enter the Riksdag. None of this looks good for the Moderate-led Alliance. The only poll taken after the scandal broke shows the SD in first place. This is consistent with the polling bias or the pollster, Sentio. We would further note that Sentio and YouGov, both of which do online polling, are the only two pollsters that consistently put SD in first place. This kind of online polling bias is something to watch out for.