Government newsletter: General election on 14 September
8 september 2014

General election on 14 September

A woman voting, next to her stands a young boy looking into the camera. Photo: Malin Hoelstad/TT

The elections to the Riksdag and the municipal and county council assemblies will be held on Sunday 14 September 2014. Elections are the most important means by which citizens can influence politics and at the same time demand accountability for the policies that have been pursued. High voter turnout is a sign of a robust and well-functioning democracy. When more people vote, voter participation is more equal and the election results more accurately reflect citizens' views.

The Government is actively working to achieve a high and even voter turnout. In the Budget Bill for 2014, the Government earmarked SEK 60 million for measures to increase voter turnout. Young people and people born abroad are priority target groups. Special measures are also being targeted at people with disabilities.

Record voter turnout in the European election in the spring

At 51 per cent, turnout in the 2014 European election beat all previous records. This is an increase of more than 5 percentage points compared with the 2009 election. This increase means that Swedish turnout in the European elections has risen over two elections in a row. Turnout in this year's election was the highest ever recorded in any of the five European elections Sweden has held since 1995. For the second election in a row, Swedish turnout exceeded average voter turnout in the EU, which was 43 per cent in both 2009 and 2014.

Differences in voter turnout

The number of voters has risen in the last two general elections as well as the last two European elections. Despite the fact that turnout in the latest elections rose most among voter groups that are traditionally less likely to vote, there are still large differences. Voter numbers are considerably lower among young people and people born abroad.

However, voter numbers for European elections are significantly lower than those for general elections. In the 2010 general election, voter turnout was 85 per cent. The differences in voter turnout between various groups are also more noticeable in European elections than in general elections.

Statistics are not yet available for voter turnout within the various groups for the 2014 European election. But we know that there are significant differences in turnout between various municipalities and voting districts. In the voting district with the lowest voter turnout only 21 per cent of those entitled to vote actually cast their vote, whereas the figure was 80 per cent in the voting district with the highest voter turnout.

Measures to increase voter turnout

Minister for EU Affairs Birgitta Ohlsson, who is also responsible for democracy issues, held dialogue meetings around the country during the spring to drum up interest and engagement in the European election. Other measures that the Government carried out in connection with the European election to increase Swedish voter turnout are continuing for the general election this autumn.

School elections

The Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society (the former National Board for Youth Affairs) has been tasked with holding 2014 school elections in connection with the European and general elections. The aim is to show pupils how voting works and provide an opportunity for schools to discuss the democratic system and the principles of democracy.

This was the first time that school elections have been held in connection with a European election. A total of 270 schools took part and approximately 120 000 pupils were given the opportunity to vote. So far, 1 770 schools have registered to organise school elections ahead of the general election. This means that at least 565 000 pupils will have the opportunity to take part in school elections this autumn.

Support material on political information in schools

The Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society has also been tasked with producing support material for teachers on how to deal with political information and the presence of political parties in schools. The purpose of this support material - Prata politik! (Talk about politics!) - is to make it easier for schools to welcome discussions with political parties and to provide concrete support for teachers who invite political parties to speak in schools. The support material has been sent out to all schools and is available for download from the Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society website.

Funds for measures to increase voter turnout

The Government has instructed the Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society to distribute funds to civil society organisations and to municipalities carrying out activities to increase voter turnout. These activities are primarily directed at young people and people born abroad, and they are being conducted in areas where voter turnout has been low in previous general elections. The Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society has approved 22 projects to receive a total of SEK 6.75 million.

Special funds to political parties for information campaigns

Political parties have an important role to play in creating interest in general elections. The Government has distributed special funds to the parliamentary parties and the parties represented in the European Parliament to carry out information campaigns. These funds give the parties greater scope to reach out to voters, in particular groups in which turnout has traditionally been lower.

Supporting religious communities' information campaigns

The Government has instructed the Swedish Commission for Government Support to Faith Communities to encourage the work of religious communities on information campaigns ahead of the 2014 elections. Religious communities are important for newly arrived residents as the religious connection can provide a sense of security in their new society. The religious communities can therefore reach groups that the authorities and other organisations have trouble reaching.

Website with easy-to-read election information

The Government considers that opportunities for people with reading difficulties to access information and take part in the political debate should be improved in connection with this year's elections. The Government has therefore approved funding for the Centre for Easy-to-Read to run a website containing easy-to-read election information in connection with the 2014 elections. The easy-to-read website - allavaljare.se - targets all those who need easy-to-read and independent news to participate in the 2014 elections.

Survey of accessibility for people with disabilities

It is important that everyone has the same opportunity to cast their vote. The Government has instructed the Swedish Agency for Participation (the former Swedish Agency for Disability Policy Coordination - Handisam) to conduct a survey of the accessibility of polling stations and advance voting stations in order to improve accessibility for people with disabilities.

Election Authority plans and coordinates elections

The Election Authority is the central government agency responsible for elections. It is responsible for planning and coordinating the organisation of general elections and national referendums. The European election was held on 25 May 2014 and the elections to the Riksdag and the municipal and county council assemblies will be held on 14 September 2014.