Parliamentary elections have kicked off in Sweden, with the center-left opposition targeting a narrow lead, according to the latest opinion polls. A change of power is expected after eight years of conservative rule.
The center-left Social Democrats, who have been polling about 30 percent, are basing their political program on increased jobs, education and healthcare spending. The funds they plan to allocate are 40 billion crowns ($5.6 billion).
If the polls are accurate, the Social Democrats could form a coalition government with the Green Party or the Left Party.
The elections are taking place as many Swedes are concerned that the current right-wing Alliance government has weakened health care, and allowed businesses to profit from schools, Reuters reported.
Unemployment is currently at 8 percent, affecting mainly the youth and the immigrant population.
The gap between rich and poor has grown faster in Sweden than in many developed countries, despite its remaining one of the world’s most egalitarian states, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Sweden’s current prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, who took office in 2006, is the country’s longest-serving conservative leader.
If the opinion polls are proved right, Social Democrat leader Stefan Loefven could become the next premier of the Nordic region`s largest country, AFP reported.
The vote also comes as far-right parties are gaining more support: the Sweden Democrats, who aim to cut asylum seekers by 90 percent, are expected to double their vote in Sunday’s parliamentary polls and get 10 percent.
However, the opposition is unlikely to win a clear majority, experts say.
“All the signs point to the fact that the center-left are going to be bigger than the Alliance, but that they won’t get a majority,” Mikael Sundstrom, a political scientist at Lund University, said, describing the situation for the Social Democrats as “very difficult.”
Polls demonstrate the Social Democrats, Greens and Left are to get around 46 percent of votes, while the current government Alliance would receive 41 percent.