Moderate Party (M). Despite the name, the Moderates are Sweden’s principal centre-right party.
The party claims its ideology is a mixture of liberalism and conservatism. The party has historically tended to be the most pro-market party in Sweden. However, due to the strength of the Swedish model in the popular imagination the party still maintains a broad attachment to comparatively high welfare spending. The party tends to prefer marketising rather than cutting, therefore. For instance, Sweden is the one of the few countries in the world to implement Milton Friedman’s school vouchers scheme, and educational reforms by the Moderates have been the inspiration for Michael Gove’s ‘free schools’ project in the UK.
The Moderates base is amongst the wealthiest groups, and it is strongest in wealthy Stockholm, one of the few right-leaning capital cities in Europe.
In addition to being pro-market it is broadly more liberal than conservative these days. The party introduced same-sex marriage in power. The party does have a few conservative stances however, for instance it has traditionally favoured higher military expenditure.
The party historically battled with the Centre Party and the People’s Party for dominance of the opposition to the Social Democrats but has been the second largest party since 1979.
The party has served in government three times since WWII, first as a junior coalition partner between 1976 and 1982, secondly between 1991 and 1994 as the lead party and since 2006.
The party’s 2002 showing was a disaster, with the party almost coming third to the Liberal People’s Party. The party’s perceived radicalism played a major role in its election loss, as did the instability and infighting of the centre-right.
The party’s new leader Fredrik Reinfeldt moved the party closer to the centre, jettisoning traditional policies, and referring to his party as the ‘New Moderates’ (much like New Labour). The party began borrowing social democratic language. For instance Reinfeldt declared his party ‘the worker’s party’ describing the Social Democrats as the ‘party of benefits’. He critiqued the Social Democrats for cutting taxes on the rich in power, saying that taxes should be cut for the lowest earners instead.
He built a pre-election coalition with the other bourgeois parties – the Alliance for Sweden, winning the 2006 election. The party increased its support, despite a downward trend for its coalition partners (from whom it took votes) in 2010. The party even came within 5 seats of the top spot.
Reinfeldt has largely been a popular and successful premier though after eight years in power, the shine has inevitably began to rub off somewhat.
The Moderates are pro-European and formerly backed joining the Euro. Reinfeldt now says that the referendum is final for now.
The Moderates a member of the European People’s Party. As with other parties in Sweden they are very disloyal to their group, only voting with it 82.1% of the time, making them the least loyal EPP member.