Political ideas and parties

Last updated: 4 10 2018

This material is from the book About Sweden.

When you vote, you choose a political party that you want to support. A political party is an organisation with members who have similar ideas and who want to have influence in a country. Each party has a political programme that describes the party's ideas about how society should develop. Many of today's political parties are based on ideas that emerged during the 19th century.

Liberalism

The Latin word liber means free. The earliest liberals (in the 18th century) were concerned, among other things, with protecting people's rights and freedoms. These included freedom of expression and of the press, which the liberals wanted to protect so that everyone would be able to express their ideas and opinions in speech and in writing.

The liberals also wanted to do away with fees and customs duties when people bought and sold things. That would increase trade between countries. This would be good for the economy and reduce the risk of war.

Conservatism

The word conservative comes from the Latin conservare, which means preserve or retain. The first conservatives (in the 18th century) wanted to protect the country's history, traditions and religion. They wanted to power to remain in the hands of the king, the church and the nobility. Significant ideas within conservatism are resisting rapid changes in society and preserving traditions based on the family and religious congregations.

Socialism

The word socialism comes from the Latin socius meaning companion. The first socialists (in the 19th century) wanted to protect the rights of the working class. They didn't want factories and other businesses to be privately owned. Instead they wanted people to own these collectively. Significant ideas within socialism are, for example, that there has to be the greatest possible equality between individuals and different groups in society.

Other political ideologies

New ideologies emerged in the 20th century. Their ideas have influences the entire world in various ways.

Feminism has been around for a long time, but grew in strength over the course of the 20th century. Feminists believe that it is wrong for men to have more power in society than women. They focus on strengthening women's political, economic and social rights.

Ecologism is ideas that involve regarding the human race as part of the natural world. Political ecologism revolves around a desire to work to create a good environment and ecologically sustainable development.

Nationalism is ideas that deal with the sense of community within the nation. Nationalist want to preserve their own nation, its culture and history. Nationalists are critical of cultures being mixed.

Fascism and Nazism have existed since the beginning of the 20th century, and maintain that a strong elite rather than democratically elected politicians should govern a country. Both fascism and Nazism are nationalist ideologies that believe their own culture is superior to others. Nazism was strong in Germany in the 1930s when Adolf Hitler governed the country. The Nazis started the Second World War and killed many millions of people including Jews, Roma, functionally impaired people and people who opposed the Nazi regime.

Political parties

The political parties have an important democratic role in providing the voters with choices in general elections and opportunities to influence policy, participate and assume responsibility. Political parties can seek financial support from public funds, so that they will be able to work towards long-term goals without being dependent on private donors. Parties can apply for financial support from Partibidragsnämnden (the Board for Financial Support to Political Parties). Such support may be provided for the general activities of parties that are represented in the Riksdag as well as to those that are not. Election results influence how much money parties receive.

The parties represented in the Riksdag during the current term (2014-2018) are the Centre Party (C), the Liberal Party (L), the Christian Democrats (KD), the Green Party (MP), the Moderate Party (M), the Social Democratic Party (S), the Sweden Democrats (SD) and the Left Party (V). The Social Democratic Party and the Green Party formed a government following the election in September 2014. The Prime Minister is Stefan Löfven (S).

The Moderate Party, the Centre Party, the Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats form a political coalition known as the Alliance. This coalition was in government in 2006-2010 and 2010-2014.