‘Something is About to Happen’: Confidence in Swedish Government Slumps as COVID-19 Deaths Pile Up

01.06.2020

Following a brief surge in the polls, the Swedish government has lost 11 percent in the latest confidence survey by pollster Sifo.

Confidence in the government dipped below 50 percent, whereas confidence in the Public Health Agency, the National Board of Health, the Swedish Agency for Social Protection, and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency also plummeted, which experts from pollster Sifo have described as a “new signal”.

This may signal a new trend, as previous surveys indicated a surge in support for the ruling Social Democrats due to its handling of the COVID-19 crisis. Earlier in the crisis, Swedes rallied around the government and the Public Health Authority. Support for the government, previously at around 30 percent, doubled. At the same time, as many as 80 percent had confidence in the health authority and state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell as its public face.

“There has been an exceptional rise in confidence in the government during the corona crisis. Now a sign has come that this first phase, where one rallies behind the leaders is over”, Sifo’s opinion manager Toivo Sjören told the newspaper Expressen. “This is a new signal, something is about to happen. The authorities tend to enjoy less confidence than before”.

Sjören argued that confidence in the Swedish government and the authorities in general had been undermined by the recent debate about the deficiencies in elderly care, high COVID-19 death rates, the low number of tests, and Sweden’s strategy as a whole.

Sweden, which refrained from any lockdowns and instead put its faith into herd immunity, saw the number of infected and fatalities soar, exceeding the death toll in all it fellow Nordic states combined.

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Last week, the Swedish death toll was the highest in the world, based on averages for the past seven days. At the end of April, Sweden recorded its highest mortality rate in a century.

Given the polarising nature of Sweden’s strategy and mixed reactions even among Swedes themselves, some were quick to post gleeful comments.

“Up like a sun and down like a pancake”, a user tweeted.

​“Who is surprised?” Finnish star violinist Linda Lampenius tweeted.

​With its unque no-lockdown approach, Sweden has seen over 37,500 confirmed cases and almost 4,400 fatalities. Its strategy of keeping most schools, restaurants, and businesses open has sparked domestic and foreign criticism due to high death rates and what is seen as failure to protect the most vulnerable, as most of the fatalities were aged 80 and over.