The major news in Umeå today has to do with the role of one of the city’s representatives in Parliament — Helena Lindahl (photo above) — who might be the decision-maker that gives the far-right-wing nationalist Sweden Democrats power in a national governing coalition for the first time ever. This means that an Umeå representative might be responsible for swinging the Swedish government in the same direction of anti-immigrant nationalism that has taken a firmer hold in other European Union countries such as Poland and Hungary. The background to Lindahl’s decision is the following:
Last week, the Swedish parliament, for the first time ever, successfully carried a vote of no-confidence in Prime Minister Stefan Löfvén and the governing center-left Social Democrats. It’s worth noting that Umeå is a very Social Democratic city, by Swedish standards; in the most recent national elections, the Social Democrats doubled the number of votes of the second-most-voted-for party, the Left Party. This makes it all the more unusual that a representative of Umeå would end up being a kingmaker for the far-right Sweden Democrats. In any case, today, the Speaker of the House in Stockholm gave the center-right Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson the opportunity to try to form a governing coalition. Kristersson has three days, and then Parliament will vote to make him the new Prime Minister. (If he fails, then the Speaker will give the opportunity to another parliamentarian. If four fail in a row, then constitutionally there will necessarily be an immediate new national election.)
Kristersson and the Moderates have said that they’re willing to form a power-sharing coalition with the Sweden Democrats. That coalition would, mathematically, have to include the Christian Democrats and the Liberals. They would total up to 174 votes — but they’d need 175 to get power. The natural next party to join them would be the Centre Party. However, its leader, Annie Lööf, said today that she would refuse to govern with what she called the “xenophobic” Sweden Democrats.
This is where Lindahl comes in. She is a renegade member of the Centre Party, who said yesterday that she’d be open to “several different solutions”. This is ominous for those opposing the Sweden Democrats, because Lindahl has, in the past, voted against her party’s stance. In 2018, she broke Centre Party ranks, and opposed Löfvén. So, if she breaks ranks again and votes for Kristersson, she could give the coalition enough votes to put the Sweden Democrats in power.
Lindahl does not represent only Umeå, but all of Västerbotten, and she lives in a village near Skellefteå. It is important for Umebor to remember this. Most of Västerbotten has a much higher percentage of Sweden Democrat voters than Umeå; the rest of the region’s Kommuns gave about double the number of votes per person to the nationalist party than Umebor did. The actions of an Umeå parliamentarian, then, are being driven in part by voters in the mostly more rural parts of our county.
Lindahl pushing the Sweden Democrats into a governing coalition is not, however, a sure thing by any means. The Liberals are also divided on working with the Sweden Democrats, so that party might have renegades who vote against that coalition and bring the total below 175. What’s important for Umebor to know now are two things — especially because so many Umebor are immigrants:
- The day’s events in Stockholm have made it considerably more likely that the far-right, anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats could take national power. Along with that would almost certainly be a rise in anti-immigrant rhetoric in the country.
- There’s also a good chance that we all may have new elections to vote in, within a month or so. It is therefore wise, now, to start researching the various political parties, and try to figure out for whom you might vote.