The populist Sweden Democrats won so many votes in the country’s recent elections that they won more seats in local governments than they had candidates to fill them.
While it is not uncommon to see empty seats in municipal governments in Sweden at the end of an election cycle, it is rare to see empty seats after an election. The Sweden Democrats (SD) now find themselves in the position of having 22 empty seats across the country in 17 municipalities due to winning such a large share of votes, SVT reports.
One of the reasons the SD have so many empty seats to fill is that the party locked in a certain number of candidates prior to the election and won more seats than they anticipated.
“On a locked list, the party itself has set up its candidates within the stipulated time, and then you can not add any names,” said Hans-Ivar Swärd, election officer at the Swedish election authority (Valmyndigheten).
The issue for the populist party, according to Swärd, is that they have an elected mandate but due to not having people to fill the seats, they cannot fulfil that mandate.
Sweden Election: Populists Win Their Biggest Ever Vote Share, Ruling Leftists Have Worst Result in 100 Years https://t.co/FWPk0S0Aix
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In nine municipalities the SD locked the candidate list without even having one name on it because if the list was left open the party would not have the ability to control which candidates were running for the party but this has meant empty seats in seven different municipalities.
SD municipal politician Petter Nilsson explained the reasoning behind the locked lists saying: “We chose to lock the lists to ensure that we did not get the wrong candidates, that is, those who were not Sweden Democrats.”
“It is not desirable. The best thing that could happen is that we have candidates in all municipalities and all are eligible,” he added.
This year’s Swedish national elections saw the populists make huge gains while establishment parties fell in the polls, including the ruling Social Democrats who scored their worst election victory in a hundred years.
While many parties have outright refused to negotiate with the SD on a potential coalition deal, a recent survey of Moderate Party politicians showed a majority willing to have a dialogue for a potential governing agreement.