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General elections, Electoral participation survey:

Increased turnout among the young and old

Statistical news from Statistics Sweden 2015-03-30 9.30

The voter turnout increased in the 2014 elections, but it did not increase in all population groups. In the election to the Riksdag, voter turnout rose among young and old persons as well as among Swedish born persons but not among foreign born persons. Swedes residing abroad and foreign citizens also had a low propensity to vote in 2014.

The 2014 elections to the European Parliament, the Riksdag (Swedish parliament), County Councils and Municipal Councils were all held in the same year for the first time. In the election to the Riksdag, the voter turnout increased by 1.2 percentage points to 85.8 percent. This was the third election in a row with an increased turnout. Corresponding increases in the elections to County Councils and Municipal Councils were in total 1.4 and 1.3 percentage points respectively. In the Swedish election to the European Parliament the turnout improved by 5.5 points to 51.1 percent. It was the first time more that than half of those entitled to vote participated in a Swedish election to the European Parliament.

Even if turnout improved in the 2014 elections, there were still substantial differences in turnout among different population groups. The voting rates are lower among single persons, the unemployed, those with lower education levels and lower incomes. Conversely, the rates are higher among married or cohabiting persons, the employed, the well-educated and those with higher incomes.

Women vote to a greater extent than men. If we study all persons entitled to vote, the difference is not so big, only one or two percentage points depending on which election. But if we focus on younger persons, the gap is much wider. In the 2014 election to the Riksdag, the turnout was more than 4 percentage points higher among women under age 30 than among men in the same age category. Among the very old however, men vote to higher degree than women do.

Considerable increase among elderly women

Voter turnout is traditionally lowest among younger and older persons. However, in recent years voter turnout for these groups has increased the most. Compared with previous elections, voter turnout has increased among those under age 30 by two percentage points to 81 percent in the 2014 Riksdag election. Among those age 65 and older, the share of voters increased by 3 percentage points to 86 percent. This has led to a more equal turnout.

Turnout in Riksdag elections by age, 2010 and 2014. Percent and percentage points
 Election year  
Age group20102014Change
18–29 years 79.5 81.3 +1.8
30–49 years 85.5 86.3 +0.8
50–64 years 88.9 88.7 -0.2
65 and older 83.2 85.9 +2.7
Total 84.6 85.8 +1.2

If we compare with the 2002 Riksdag election, the increase among those under age 30 has increased by 9 percentage points and among those age 65 and older by 7 percentage points. When we break down the statistics further we can see that one of the groups where voter turnout has increased the most is among women over age 80. Compare with the 2002 Riksdag election, the share that voted in that group has increased by 13 percentage points. However, this is from a low level, which makes voter turnout only 70 percent in the 2014 Riksdag election. Among men in the same age group, 81 percent voted.

In the 2014 EU election, voter turnout increased in relation to previous elections for all age groups. The increase was greater for those under age 50 than among older persons. As a result, age differences in turnout decreased in the 2014 election.

Turnout in European Parliament elections by age, 2009 and 2014. Percent and percentage points
 Election year  
Age group20092014Change
18–29 years 39.2 46.2 +7.0
30–49 years 42.2 49.2 +7.0
50–64 years 50.1 53.4 +3.3
65 and older 50.1 54.7 +4.6
Total 45.5 51.1 +5.5

Considerable differences between Swedish and foreign born persons

In the 2014 Riksdag election, voter turnout among Swedish born persons increased by nearly 2 percentage points compared with 2010. However, no statistically significant change can be seen for foreign born persons. As a result, the difference in voter turnout between these two groups has increased and amounted to 17 percentage points in 2014 (voter turnout was 89 and 72 percent respectively). At the same time, it should be mentioned that the number of foreign born persons has increased considerably between the two election periods, and the tendency to vote is lower among those who recently received Swedish citizenship.

In the 2014 European Parliament election however, voter turnout increased among foreign born Swedish citizens. Nevertheless, despite the increased voter turnout, only 39 percent of this group voted, which can be compared to 54 percent of Swedish born persons.

Low voter turnout among Swedish born persons living abroad and foreign citizens

Swedish citizens living abroad comprise a group that usually has a low voter turnout, and the 2014 Riksdag election was no exception. Only 32 percent voted, which is not a statistically significant change in relation to the 2010 election. In the 2014 European Parliament election, voter turnout increased among Swedish persons living abroad, but even so, voter turnout was only 13 percent.
Another group that usually has a low voter turnout is foreign citizens who are eligible to vote in county council and municipal council elections. In the 2014 municipal council elections, 34 percent of foreign nationals voted. That is about the same level that voter turnout has been for the group in recent elections.

About the survey

Statistics Sweden is today publishing the results of the 2014 election turnout survey. The survey describes election turnout in various groups in the 2014 elections to the European Parliament, the Riksdag, the county councils and municipal councils. The proportion of voters is reported by e.g. sex, age, country of birth, foreign/Swedish background, citizenship, region, civil status, income, level of education, employment status, profession, labour market sector, socioeconomic group (SEI) and employee organisation membership. The survey is a sample survey, which means that there is some uncertainty in the reported figures. This statistical uncertainty is reported in the results in the form of margins of error. The results are presented as tables on the Statistics Sweden website and in Statistics Sweden's Statistical Database, see the information below.

Statistical Database

More information is available in the Statistical Database

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Statistical agency and producer

Statistics Sweden, Democracy Statistics

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Richard Öhrvall

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