The Swedish election is one month away. The two major coalitions - the somewhere-around-center-right and the vaguely left - stand completely even at around 46-47% in recent polls. Neo-nazi outgrowth Sweden Democrats now hover below the 4% limit. The Pirate Party doesn't register enough support to be listed separately. Ho hum.
But 22% of voters are undecided. Three coalition parties - the Communists on the left, and the Center party and the Christian Democrats on the right - are below 6%, and have all hovered right at the 4% limit at one time or another. Failure by any of them to get into parliament would completely alter the election and probably give the opposing coalition a comfortable majority.
The past few months have seen political triangulation at its finest - to the point where, if the election rhethoric could be believed, it wouldn't matter much which coalition ends up winning anymore. The opinion polls reflect this: for all the polling hype, the two coalitions have been in a dead heat for more than a year, with nary a blip to relieve the tedium.
There's been a bit of fireworks this summer. A minister in the center-right coalition resigned when accused of going to a prostitute by Aftonbladet, a left-leaning gutter press that later turned out to have made it up. This week, two Social Democrat candidates where caught by police in an LO1 apartment with a couple of prostitutes. Entertainment for the public, and wrecked lives for everyone involved and their families, but largely irrelevant for the election.
I voted this week, ahead of the trip. Postal voting makes it easy to vote wherever you are so there's no real reason not to. What did I vote on? None of the coalition parties. I feel no close affinity to any of them, and I have an enduring dislike for the Communists and the Christian Democrats and will not vote for any coalition if either is a member. And I would slit my wrists rather than vote for the racist bigots of the Sweden Democrats.
Instead, I vote for the Pirate Party. They focus on open government, freedom of information and communication, intellectual property reform and privacy issues. It is a one-issue party of course, but as issues go this is important, and becoming more so every year. How we resolve these issues now will help determine what kind of society we live in a generation from now. And it's of course more important than tenths of percentage points in the building tax rate or the number of ATMs in Stockholm subway, which is the kind of thing the two coalitions are bickering about. Do I agree with everything in their program? No. But I do feel strongly for many of the important issues, which is more than I can say for either of the two coalitions.
Will they get into parliament? Doubtful. But that doesn't mean my vote is wasted - voting for a coalition I don't actually agree with, on the other hand, would. And it's not like the chance of making it is zero; they managed to get two EU parliament seats against all odds after all.
If you're Swedish, vote. And if you don't much like either of the two main alternatives, you can do much worse than the Pirate Party.
#1 LO is the largest Swedish worker's union, theoretically separate from the Social Democrats but in practice they're two wings of the same organization.