The events described in my last blog never did get resolved to the satisfaction of the established order. Earlier this week it was announced that Swedes will be heading back to the polls again in March 2015, in the hope that this time they might vote the right way after the election in September produced deadlock. The far-right Sweden Democrats (SD), with 13% of the riksdag, voted against newly-elected Social Democrat Prime Minister Stefan Löfven’s budget proposal, triggering a political crisis. The SD’s votes, added to those of the four ‘Alliance’ opposition parties, proved decisive in bringing down the Social Democrat-Green Party minority government.
One of the dullest political arenas in Europe has been catapulted onto newspaper pages and television screens across the continent.
At a press conference announcing their decision to vote down the government’s budget, acting SD leader Mattias Karlsson stood in front of a large screen with the words: “We will always try to bring down any government and budget which supports increased immigration and which gives the Green Party decisive influence over immigration policy.”
The Green Party – led by the 12-year-old (unless anyone can provide me with evidence that he owns a razor) do-gooder Gustav Fridolin, who gives the impression of someone whose main goal in life is not to upset his Mum – have been called an “extremist party” by the SD, and seem completely unaware of many legitimate concerns voters have, for example over little Sweden accounting – along with Germany – for 50% of all Syrian refugees in Europe. The SD have discussed initiatives to help such people in their own countries instead of inflicting such resource-draining numbers on councils with already creaking infrastructures (all I would be asking for personally is for the issue to be discussed in open debate as a start). Sincere or not, this hasn’t succeeded in ending the established parties’ ‘fingers-in-ears, not-listening’ stance towards the SD.
Karlsson, by the way, is standing in for leader Jimmie Åkesson, who went on sick leave shortly after the election, citing burnout. It remains unclear whether he will make a return before March’s election. It is tempting to speculate that the level of abuse and vitriol relentlessly hurled at Åkesson in recent years by the more undemocratic elements of Swedish society has had a significant role to play in this. Whatever your views on his politics – and again I personally disagree with enough of the SD’s to not vote for them – at least he’s part of the democratic process, pushing his cause in a non-violent manner. Anyway, the Swedish reputation for fairness and open-mindedness is, I’m sorry to say, a bit of a joke when I look at the treatment he has received from some, ironically the type that strains every sinew to come across as the cuddly liberal.
Karlsson has said he wants the March 2015 election to be an “immigration referendum”, which may yet force the established parties to publicly address the sorts of concerns many voters have but which in the world’s most politically-correct state public figures won’t dare talk about.
Some are blaming the opposition Alliance parties for the current malaise, for refusing to abstain their votes. The Social Democrats were certainly annoyed about this – the only votes that should carry any weight, apparently, are their 30.7% of the riksdag. Many will attest to my dyscalculia, but I know that 30.7% is less than a third.
The more sane commentators have had the temerity to suggest that the crisis is largely Löfven’s doing, given his inflexibility in both shutting out the SD above all else and in negotiations with the Alliance parties.
Familiarity breeds contempt, but so does complacency. For all the good the Social Democrats did for Sweden in the 20th century – in building up a welfare state envied the world over, and industrialising a largely poor, agricultural economy into the modern world – it appears voters have finally become tired of the Sossarna’s sense of entitlement when it comes to power. “In the Social Democratic imagination, it is always the other parties who should support the Social Democrats – never the other way around,” wrote Hanne Kjöller of Dagens Nyheter, referring to Löfven’s botched attempt at remaining in power.
It’s hard to say how events of this week will affect the March 2015 election. A lot depends on the behaviour of the established parties in the next three months. Maybe some of those who voted SD will see the present crisis as a wake-up call and return grudgingly to the established fold. Then again, others will probably look at Löfven, Fridolin et al. and decide the established order are still not listening to them.
From a personal point of view I am looking forward to the prospect of being spared four years of Social Democrat rule. As a hard-working and law-abiding family man in my thirties, I do not anticipate many favours from them.
Just a final point, which perfectly illustrates the alarmingly childish and irresponsible attitude the people running Sweden today have.
A few weeks ago I was watching Skavlan, which is basically a Scandinavian Wogan, where celebrities and public figures from across the Nordic countries sit and chat on the sofa of the slightly-effeminate but likeable Norwegian, Fredrik Skavlan. Magdalena Andersson, the Swedish finance minister was on. Skavlan mentioned that he’d heard a rumour that in her previous office, she would always work with the blinds shut, whatever the season, weather or time of day. Andersson confirmed this, and naturally Skavlan enquired as to why. “Because the window had a view overlooking the SD building. I didn’t want to see it.”
Make of that what you will.