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Despite the populist pressure, Sweden remains a model

The populists advanced in the September 9 elections, but without breaking through. Existential statements …

According to a scenario that now occurs in several European countries, Sweden is ungovernable in the aftermath of the general elections of September 9, 2018. The political landscape evokes a puzzle similar to the puzzle that emerged from the polls during the previous elections of 2014 came. there are 144 delegates for the left wing (Social Democrats, Greens, Left Party), 143 for the Alliance (conservatives, centrists, liberals, Christian Democrats), but 62 for the populists of the xenophobic movement The Democrats from Sweden (SD) , which expertly guides Jimmie Akesson.

Another reading of political fragmentation

The difference, noteworthy with 2014, is due to the progress of the latter: if they did not achieve their goal, which would become the second-largest political power in the country, they still recorded a 5% progress, which to influence the composition of a forced coalition between left and right and in any case influence the debate of ideas. It is at this second point that you have to meditate. Although the Social Democrats are only 3% lower than in 2014 and remain the leading party in Sweden, they have scored the worst since 1911.

The Greens, meanwhile, are in sharp decline while the most radical wing (greeted by Jean-Luc Mélenchon), the left wing, wins 2 points. We can obscure the causes of this fragmentation and, as always, denounce the exhaustion of traditional parties, experimenting with the chronic weakening of the centrist block (left and right) or the mass arrival of immigrants and the rejection that their presence in the big or smallest cities of the kingdom … This is all true. But a reading is still needed.

The election campaign dominated by the outgoing Social Democrats focused on issues that are at the heart of Swedish democracy: immigration (with its consequence of integration and tolerance), internal security, social benefits (first and foremost health) and education. It is this corpus, cement of Sweden for eight decades, that has not overwhelmed the populist wave and that millions of voters are afraid to see a breach definitively. The rise of xenophobia of the SD movement and the relative resistance of the Social Democrats has occurred in a country that is objectively good. The Swedish economy remains a performance model, especially when we compare this data with the weak results of France. Emmanuel Macron was in Scandinavia last week to see the success of Sweden through the alliance of economic liberalism and social progress. The voice of Sunday 9 September reflects this fundamental duality: yes to the maintenance of the social system, not to those who can question it (in this case massive immigration), hence the non-collapse of social democracy and the breakthrough, clear but still manageable, xenophobes.

"Cultural insecurity" in the heart of the welfare state

Despite the resistance against traditional political forces, the Swedish electorate reacted more to a climate than to real decline. With nearly 2% growth and an unemployment rate below 6%, with well-managed public finances and social inequalities better under control than anywhere else in Europe, this Scandinavian democracy remains a model for many other Member States. the European Union.

However, the aging of the population, which is linked to the very high level of social protection, causes many citizens to fear an expected deterioration; in a few years it will be difficult for Sweden to finance the generous system and the associated rights. Hence a prevailing feeling of insecurity, which causes a spontaneous tension on the number of immigrants; The latter certainly rejuvenate the population, but also transform the urban landscape and the missions of the state. In Sweden it is not the cult of the motherland, the influence of the armies on distant fields of action, nor the international influence of the language of Stieg Larsson (author of the Millenium trilogy) that serves as cement for the nation, but rather the social architecture embedded in the life of every family, the belief in progress.

Moreover, the hospitality offered to immigrants in this ingenious, highly exporting and globalized country was one of the credos of social democracy. Today, one in five Swedes is of foreign origin; It is not surprising that voters judge the policy according to this criterion. "Cultural uncertainty", according to Laurent Bouvet's expression, is an explanation for political behavior that is now much more convincing than the notions of social inequality or economic uncertainty.

Europe is governed by two strong democratic models, two essential identities: the welfare state, largely invented by Sweden, and the nation state, well-known by France. These two patterns are in crisis in the face of a common fear that is represented by the other's irruption in the heart of our societies. In order to preserve the fundamental democratic achievements, the task of politicians will be to understand and ultimately offer answers to "cultural insecurity".

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