Speed Reads

Democracy in action

Sweden votes out conservative government

On Sunday, after eight years of tax cuts and chipping away at the welfare system, Sweden voted out the center-right Alliance coalition, giving a plurality of the vote to the center-left Social Democrats. Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said he will tender his and his government's resignations on Monday.

It wasn't an overwhelming victory for the center-left: The Social Democrats got 31.1 percent of the vote, while Reinfeldt's Moderate Party got only 23.2. With the Green Party and Left Party, the Social Democrats have 43.6 percent of the vote, versus 39.4 percent for conservative Alliance bloc. The big surprise of the election, unnerving for many Swedes, is the 13 percent garnered by the far-right anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party, which doubled its vote from four years ago.

Social Democrats leader and presumptive new prime minister Stefan Lofven will have a daunting task putting together a governing majority, and may have to try to poach centrist parties from the Alliance. Analysts say the defeat of the Alliance reflects Swedes' discomfort with the rising inequality, privatization, and cuts to Sweden's prized social welfare services, affecting everything from education to health care. Sweden's liberal immigration policy isn't likely to change, as welcoming refugees from Syria and elsewhere is supported by both center-right and center-left.