Liberals (l) - Percentage of votes obtained by the party at the election 2018 - over/under 5 %
Liberalerna experienced its heyday during the 1950's but has been plagued by decreasing voter support. At least if you take into consideration that they in modern times have had on average 7,7% voter support in the general election, while they in the early days were supported by one forth of the Swedish people. As a member of the alliance they were a part of the coalition government during 2006-2014.
Liberalism has its roots in the popularization of ideas regarding economical activity on equal terms, fewer benefits from society and birth, the right to trade and a less imposing state. To understand how Liberalerna went from having a large following to becoming a small party, we need to look at the period where they found success.
Liberalism during the 1950's and beyond
Sweden went economically strong in to the 50's with an industrial economy having gained from increased export. The median income of the Swedish households had soared and the middle class crew. Not surprisingly the interest grow for private business without government interference. Liberalerna experienced high voter support after the period following the expansion of voting rights had seen new voters turning on liberal politics. The following decades where marked by more socially aware politics which decreased interest in liberal politics. In modern times the politically organized liberalism has lost wide support with few periodic exceptions.
The growth of social liberalism
To grasp what the agenda of the modern Liberalerna consists of, we can draw from their liberal manifesto of 2014. Focus is on schooling, feminism, jobs, companies, refugee politics, elder care, climate, EU and culture. This is in stark contrast to the older liberalism focused on trade. Although having changed, they are still working on reforming the labor market to value merits over traditional socialistic regulation and encouraging free trade between Sweden, EU and the USA. Focus has shifted to more social issues and social welfare politics. Criticism has been voiced that this detracts from economically oriented politics. Those who see a future in the modern literalistic course insists that it is not possible to focus on purely economical issues when the modern world has so many more issues.
The future of Liberalerna
One can not with any degree of certainty say if social liberalism is an attempt to face modern expectations of a permanent shift in the party. What is obvious is that voters has not reacted positively. In the latest general election, 2014, Liberalen received 5,42% of the votes which is the lowest voter support they have ever had. Does liberal politics require a stronger society than the voters now believe we have? Will the support change if voters perception of society changes? These are questions without apparent answers. In this years opinion poll the support for Liberalen has increased with 0,58 percentage points which can be considered statistically marginal. One has to ask if time has run out on Liberalerna.
Will the future of liberalism be found in the general direction of economy and society? Perhaps the party will grow strong if voters believe in better days.