Sweden votes right – wrong

Posted October 5, 2010 on 2:39 pm | In the category Election, Europe, Germany | by Mackenzie Brothers

The federal election in Sweden on September 19 should have sent shock waves through the western world, and it did not go unnoticed as it would have if the Social Democrats had won the election, as they have gotten used to doing since the 1920s. It’s true there have been blips before in their winning streak, but the upset winners have then not lasted more than one term, and the world continues to think of Scandinavia and The Netherlands in general and Sweden in particular as the prime examples of tolerant societies with a strong social net that is designed to make the playing field level for all citizens.

But this time something happened which may in fact spell the end of the Social Democrats’ view of themselves as the naturally ruling party of Sweden after being in in power 83% of the time since 1932. This time the blip did not disappear, but rather rewarded a conservative party that has been ruling in coalition with a group of smaller moderately right parties since the last election by doubling its vote to 30%, with its coalition partners to 49%, thus winning 172 of the 349 seats, just short of a majority. This conservative coalition will thus once again form the government, while the Social Democrats dropped 4 percentage points to only 31%. On its own this is big news, as it may signal the end of socialist power in apparently prosperous northern European societies. However it is not not shocking news.

The shock comes from the 5.7% of the vote, and 20 seats, won by the ultra-far right Sweden Democrats party, running on an anti-immigrant platform that many consider to be Neo-Nazi, and featuring an ad in the final weeks before the vote that showed 3 young women, easily identified as Moslems by their clothes, shoving aside an older woman, easily identifiable as Swedish, as they bully their way to a welfare-benefit counter. This ad would be illegal and unshowable on German or Canadian television, but in Sweden it helped make the “Sweden for Swedes” party the potential kingmaker of the next government as the conservative coalition cannot form a majority without the help of some other party. And it looks like none of the leftist parties will consider being part of it. Anyone interested in looking at the vote results in German elections in the 1920s is welcome to do so.

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