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Nicholas Aylott, "Back to the Future: The 1994 Swedish Election," Party Politics , 1 (July, 1995), 419-429.

First Paragraph:
As expected, Sweden moved appreciably to the left in its election of 18 September 1994. The Social Democratic Party, which had governed for all but nine of the previous 62 years, won 45.3 percent of the vote. It was the party's second best performance since 1970, confounding predictions that its 37.7 percent in 1991, it worst score since 1928, presaged an imminent and historic decline. Its leader, Ingvar Carlsson, who had become prime minister in 1986 after the assassination of his predecessor, Olof Palme, resumed the position. Though not enough to win a parliamentary majority for themselves, the Social Democrats' vote was easily enough to unseat the incumbent prime minister,Carl Bildt, and his three-year-old non-socialist coalition. The coalition's components had mixed fortunes. For the largest party in the 'four-leaf-clover' government, Bildt's conservative Moderates, disappointment at losing power was tempered by satisfaction at becoming the first party of the prime minister in nine elections to increase its vote, from 21.9 percent to 22.4 percent. The election was lost in the performance of the other right-of-center parties. Of the Moderates' three coalition partners, the Centre Party produced its worst vote ever, 7.7 percent; the Liberals their second worst, 7.2 percent; and the Christian Democrats, after making their parliamentary debut in 1991, came perilously close to dropping below the 4 percent threshold for representation in the Riksdag (parliament). That fate befell 1991's other parliamentary debutants,the populist right-wing New Democracy, on whom the non-socialist government had frequently to rely for legislative majorities.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1: The 1994 Swedish election.

Last Paragraph:
Finally, despite their impressive vote, life in office will be a great test for the Social Democrats. The EU referendum offered an early hurdle, divided as the party remained over Swedish accession. In the event,Carlsson's balancing act - persuading Social Democratic supporters to support EU membership, without alienating the party's anti-EU faction - succeeded: after his election victory in September, accession was approved on 14 November, 52.2 percent to 46.9 percent. A longer-term problem, however, is the sheer gravity of the economic situation. A Social Democratic minority government was precisely the outcome the markets did not want, and the party's disastrous showing in 1991 was largely attributable to its previous attempt to implement austere economic policies. This had provoked bitter division both internally and with the trade unions, forcing Carlsson (briefly) to resign as prime minister in February 1990 (Arter, 1994). Indeed, Swedish media commentators were quick to highlight parallels between the current situation and the one Carlsson faced after his 1988 election victory -and to speculate as to whether his party was now any better prepared for the economic decisions facing it. The strength of the Left and the Social Democrats' new parliamentary intake - widely considered to be younger, more inexperienced and more left wing - no doubt contributed to some non-socialist leaders suggesting that another election might be necessary within six months if a budget could not be agreed. (The extension of the parliamentary term from three to four years makes this more likely.) On the other hand, the Social Democrats have a tradition of strong party discipline in the Riksdag, and the leader of the trade union federation is much more a loyalist than his rumbustious predecessor. Time will tell if the Social Democrats, having engineered Sweden's welfare society,are equipped to handle its rationalization.