Analysis Sweden, the end of the idyll


Mauricio Rojas is a Chilean-Swedish politician, economic historian and writer. Author of Reinventar el Estado del bienestar. La experiencia de Suecia, Gota a Gota, 2008

On Sunday 9 September a historic election will take place in Sweden. Everything indicates that social democracy will still be the largest party in the country, but it will experience the worst election result since the introduction of full democracy a century ago. The party, which is likely to win around 25% of the vote, is far from the usual results - over 40% and even 50% - it achieved for nearly 60 consecutive years (1932-1988). For their part, the conservatives have not managed to rebound and also seem to be heading towards an important electoral defeat. This would reduce, as in Spain and other European countries, the electoral base of the two large traditional parties from over 60% in 2010 to just over 40% in the next elections.

At the same time the Swedish Democrats are growing spectacularly, the party that is critical of immigration and with clear nationalist and populist tendencies. It is a party that has doubled its vote in the last four elections from 0.4% of the votes in 1998 to 12.9% in 2014. Now, everything indicates that it will be close to or above 20%, becoming the second most voted party. Its platform adds a series of attractive elements outside its great theme, immigration. These include, on the one hand, a strongly anti-establishment feature (presented as the party of those below, of the people not represented by the elite) and, on the other hand, a proposal to restore the great social project that brought social democracy to power in the early 1930s: "the home of the people" (folkhemmet). It is about recreating a compact and protective national community, based on shared ethnicity, a homogeneous culture and a strong state, very much in line with the French National Front or the Danish People's Party.

This last aspect, which is closely related to the issue of immigration (especially from Muslim countries) and the formation of large, totally segregated immigrant neighborhoods, is what gives Swedish Democrats their great attraction and their enormous successes among the working population, as well as in small cities and the semi-rural milieu. This explains the great transfer of votes not only from the Social Democrats, but also from the Conservatives, to the Swedish Democrats.

Finally, the Left Part (the former Communist Party) is also growing, and will probably obtain around 10% of the votes, confirming a European tendency towards the growth of political extremes and an accelerated deterioration of the old alliances and consensus that gave stability to the system.

In conclusion, Sweden is going through turbulent times in spite of having a vigorous economy. As in many other places, identity issues tend to take on the role that the economy once played in deciding the vote of a large part of the population.

Translated by David Outeda

#Immigration #Populism #Elecciones #two-party #Suecia