STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Support for Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats has risen to a third of voters as the public seeks stability amid the war in Ukraine, an official poll showed on Thursday, but a fragmented parliament may make it hard to form a government after a national election in September.
The Social Democrats, in power since 2014, polled 33.3% in the poll conducted by the Statistics Office (SCB), up from 29.1% in a previous poll last November. It was also up from the party’s vote share of 28.3% at the last national election in 2018.
While the government received some criticism of its handling of the pandemic, Russia’s war in Ukraine, which prompted Sweden to apply last month to join NATO, has given it a boost.
Support for the Social Democrats’ nearest rivals, the centre-right opposition Moderates, has slipped to 21.3% of voters, according to the poll, down from 22.7% in the November poll. However, that is an increase on the 19.8% vote share the party won at the 2018 election.
The centre-left bloc overall, including the Social Democrats headed by Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, were on 51.1% support in the latest SCB poll.
The centre-right parties under Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson were on 46.9%.
But a complex political landscape makes the path to power after September’s vote difficult to navigate.
Andersson currently runs a one-party minority government, kept in power by the Greens, Left and Centre parties.
What unites Andersson’s backers is a wish to keep the Sweden Democrats, a populist anti-immigration party, from having any influence in government and little else.
Kristersson can count on the support of the Christian Democrats, the Liberals and the Sweden Democrats.
The Social Democrats were only able to form a government in 2018 after months of haggling and during the last four years, they have lost the budget vote twice.
The prime minister – first Stefan Lofven and then Magdalena Andersson – were both forced to resign before being reinstated after Kristersson failed to form a centre-right administration.
September’s election could end up as a re-run of 2018 – with the Social Democrats again the eventual winners but heading a fragile, minority government.
(Reporting by Simon Johnson; Editing by Susan Fenton)