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School Politics Increasingly Important to Swedish Voters

Education is a growing political issue in Sweden, school politics is becoming increasingly important to Swedish voters in elections to parliament, and the share of voters who support the school politics of the Liberal Party has increased. These are three trends pointed out in new reports from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

The three reports are based on longitudinal voter behaviour studies that started in 1979 and 1987. The new updates concern the period between the elections in 2006 and 2010. Maria Jarl, political scientist who is studying school politics, has observed some clear trends. 'School and education issues are perceived as increasingly important among voters,' she says. 'In 2010, 26 percent of the voters saw schooling and education as an important social issue, whereas 24 percent did in 2006. Following a decline since the turn of the millennium when the importance of school issues peaked, the curve turned upward around 2003-2004.'

The Liberal Party stands out as the most popular political party when it comes to school politics; in 2010, 45 percent of the voters liked the party's school politics, up from 36 percent in 2006. The Social Democrats are also receiving increasing support; their take on schooling and education was supported by 18 percent in 2006 and 23 percent in 2010. The voters' view of the Moderate Party's school politics remained constant; 21 percent of the voters liked the party's views of schooling and education in both years.

In line with the finding that more and more voters feel that schooling is an important social issue, it turns out that an increasing number of voters chose which party to vote for based on school politics. However, although this seems to be true for the electorate at large, the trend differs depending on the party.

'Compared to all other parties, the Liberal Party attracts a larger share of their voters through school politics,' says Jarl. '48 percent of those who voted for them said that their decision was largely based on school politics. In 2006 the number was 35 percent.' 'Not nearly as many Social Democratic voters chose what party to vote for based on school politics - the shares were 23 percent in 2006 and 19 percent in 2010.'

FACTS: The conclusions are based on the following three reports: · Svenska folkets bedömning av skol- och utbildningsfragor som viktigt samhällsproblem 1987-2010. (The Swedish people's assessment of school and educational issues as an important social problem.) The SOM institute, University of Gothenburg. · Svenska folkets bedömning av Socialdemokraternas, Folkpartiets och Moderaternas politik i skol- och utbildningsfragor 1979-2010. (The Swedish people's assessment of the school politics of the Social Democratic Party, the Liberal Party and the Moderate Party 1979-2010.) The Swedish National Election Studies Program, University of Gothenburg. · Svenska folkets bedömning av skol- och utbildningsfragor som viktiga fragor för partival i riksdagsvalen 1979-2010. (The Swedish people's assessment of school and educational issues as important issues for the choice of political party in the elections to parliament 1979-2010.) The Swedish National Election Studies Program, University of Gothenburg.

The reports are published at www.valforskning.pol.gu.se

For more information please contact: Senior Lecturer Maria Jarl, Department of Education and Special Education Telephone: +46 (0)705- 48 24 32 E-mail: maria.jarl@gu.se

idw :: 14.05.2012

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