In Swing to Left, Swedes 'Turn Their Backs' on Austerity

Turning their backs on the prevailing austerity government, Swedish voters on Sunday elected the Social Democrat Party and its head Stefan Löfven to lead the country, allowing the center-left parties to reclaim power in the historically socialist state.

The Social Democrat Party, along with the Green Party and the Left Party, won 43.7 percent of the vote and 159 parliamentary seats forcing current Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt—who championed lower taxes for the wealthy and the privatization of public services, such as education— to declare his resignation. The left-leaning parties have yet to establish a formal bloc.

“The Swedish people have turned their backs against tax cuts and privatizations. The Swedish people demanded change,” said Löfven, a former welder and union organizer, during his victory speech. Though Sweden has fared better than others in the wake of the global economic collapse, the wealthy, Nordic state has mounting unemployment and complaints of failing standards of public services under increased privatization.

“We are in [a] serious situation. We have thousands of people unemployed, [w]e have school results that are declining more than in any other OECD country,” Löfven continued. “There is something that is breaking. Now Sweden has answered that we need a change.”