Thursday, December 15, 2005

Hey, SCB says it’s going a-ok!

Since I know quite a few people follow this blog in order to get unbiased (just kidding) information about Swedish politics in English, I must tell y'all about the very important and much regarded opinion poll that was released today.

Once every six months, SCB (“Statistic Sweden” in English) publishes an opinion poll based on some 10 000 interviews. (For all you non-Swedes out there: SCB is the official state authority gathering all kind of statistics relevant for the governing of Sweden. Their staff amounts to 1 400 and last year they sent out no more than 365 press releases. Let’s put it this way: they are serious about statistics).

Today at 9:30 AM, which I think is half an hour earlier than normal, the new numbers were released. This time, 9 242 individuals were interviewed during the first three weeks of November, three out of four responded and the results were as following (result compared to the last big opinion poll they did in June 2005 in brackets):

Social democrats: 37,1 percent (+2,4)
Left party: 5,7 percent (-1,3)
Green party: 4,1 percent (-0,3)
Left block: 45,6-48,2 percent.

Conservatives: 25,9 percent (-1,9)
Christian democrats: 4,8 (+0,4)
Center/Farmers party: 5,9 (-0,6)
Liberal party: 11,1 (-0,7)
Right block: 46,4-48,8 percent.

Others: 5,5 percent (notably the populist “June list”; the new Feminist party has almost disappeared).

Three basic reflections:
1. We/the Social democrats are increasing strongly; half a year ago some opinion polls indicated that the left block was ten percentage points behind the right block. Now we are on the move, it is basically a dead heat between the blocks, and I actually prefer (at this stage) to be behind a little bit. In that way, everybody understands that we must take the right seriously this time.

2. The opinion poll was made before the report about how the government handled the tsunami was presented (1st of December). The debate since then has been quite nasty, and it is difficult to know how the voters have reacted. One less regarded opinion poll suggested that the Social democrats/we have gained four percentage points since the report criticizing the government’s handling of the tsunami was presented. That sounds a little bit unlikely, but since the opposition has been infighting a lot, trying to make party politics out of a catastrophe (!!!), it remains yet to be seen how that debate has influenced the political landscape. But we will have to wait until June 2006 until we get another SCB-opinion poll based on 10 000 (and not 1 000) interviews.

3. The election 2006 will be close and interesting. One party of each block, the Greens and the Christian democrats respectively, are just above the four percent threshold you must pass to get into the Riksdag. The “June list” is getting closer, but I don’t think they will make it, given all the infighting and the lack of democracy in the party. These small parties can however alter the whole election.

Conclusion? We can beat the right again, just as always. But we need to focus on reform, jobs and sustainable growth, and the issues where they are weak (females, fags, foreign aid, foreigners and flowers). And then? Mobilize together with our magnificent trade unions and tell the voters that it’s a choice between growth and reform, or tax cuts in the magnitude of 250 billion Swedish kronas within eight years. Yeah, I'm simplifying a lot right now but as I write it down, it feels pretty obvious and simple that we can and should beat the right. Again. And as always.


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