Betting on politics: the far-right rises in Sweden

Up until recently, Swedish politics was a two-way contest between the left-of-centre Social Democrats and right-of-centre Moderate Party. However, a backlash against the government’s liberal refugee policy resulted in the far-right Sweden Democrats getting 13% of the vote in the 2013 election, making them the third-largest party. Since then the party has continued to gain support, at one point pushing the Moderate Party into third place in the polls.

While their support has retreated a bit, one recent survey has one in five Swedish voters supporting them, putting them only four points behind the Social Democrats in the polls.

Surprisingly, no major bookmaker is offering a book on the Swedish elections (scheduled for 9 September this year) at the moment. Indeed, the only one available is Betfair’s market on which party will end up with most seats (Sweden uses a system of PR). The market isn’t particularly liquid, with only £5,392 traded so far.

The stated odds are 1.65 (60.6%) for the Social Democrats, 2.02 (49.5%) for the  Sweden Democrats and 4.6 (25.3%) for the Moderate Party. Indeed, if you add the odds of the three main parties up you end up with a total of 132%, which isn’t great value.

Indeed, you’d probably be better off laying (betting against) a party. I’m very sceptical that the Sweden Democrats will win, since they’ve never actually led any of the polls and the Moderate Party are trying to eat into their support by moving closer to them on immigration and law and order.

I’d therefore lay them at 3.95, which means you are effectively getting 1.34 (74.7%) on them not winning. Remember that when you lay someone you are acting as the bookie, so you need to adjust your bet accordingly.