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Government Formation and the Radical Right: A Swedish Exception?

Higher seminar in Political Science with Anders Backlund.

Anders Backlund presents a dissertation chapter with the title New Alliances? The Swedish 2018 Government Formation. Niklas Bolin act as discussant. The seminar is followed by coffee and cake. Welcome!

Please note that the research seminars in political science are internal for researchers at Södertörn University. For questions, please contact


In this study I analyse three cases of Swedish coalition formation (Reinfeldt II, Löfven I and Löfven II) as cases of mainstream party reactions to the radical right. Seen as such, Sweden is of theoretical interest given the strong parliamentary presence of a radical right party (the Sweden Democrats) and the polarisation between the left and right political blocs.

The three cabinets studied therefore constitute crucial cases for testing the theoretical argument that coalitions excluding the radical right can be explained by structural factors (size and ideology) alone. While largely supporting this argument, the findings identify aspects of coalition research in need of theoretical and methodological refinement.

The exclusion of the Sweden Democrats can be plausibly explained with structural factors, but this requires 1) replacing the majority winning criterion with a requirement that a cabinet cannot be defeated by any ideologically connected coalition of opposition parties – a “winning plurality”; and 2) a reconceptualisation of the main dimension of political conflict according to the salience of different issues – a “weighted left-right” dimension.

The results also show that while the institutionalised isolation of the Sweden Democrats under the 2014 “December Agreement” is crucial for understanding the Löfven I cabinet, diverging strategies on the mainstream right in place by the 2018 elections suggest that Sweden should no longer be viewed as an exception to the general pattern of European mainstream party reactions to the radical right.

Time and place

13 November 13:00-14:30

Higher seminar

Room ME 610, on floor six in the E-wing, main building, Södertörn University, Campus Flemingsberg, find us


Arranged by

Political Science at the School of Social Sciences, Södertörn University



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