Monday, September 18, 2006

The (not very) right wins in Sweden

The centre-right Alliance for Sweden (a coalition of 4 smaller parties with an agreed platform) has secured a narrow election victory in Sweden. Some on the right are trumpeting this as a victory for radical right wing policies, and foreseeing the end of the Swedish social model which for so long has offered a better alternative than neo-liberalism, but that's not the case. In Sweden, the political centre is even further left than ours, and so Sweden's centre-right have campaigned not on dismantling Sweden's generous welfare state, but on running it better. In his victory speech, Moderate Party leader and Prime Minister-elect Fredrik Reinfeldt said

We ran in the election as the New Moderates, we have won the election as the New Moderates and we will also together with our Alliance friends govern Sweden as the New Moderates.

He may be trying to do a Bush, and throw a veil of "compassionate conservatism" over more right-wing policies, but with three other parties in his coalition, and a public which is firmly committed to a strong welfare state, he may not have much choice.

The Pirate Party (Arrr!) didn't make the 4% threshold, but might have made enough for ballot support next time. It seems that intellectual property just isn't a big enough issue in Sweden to build a party on...


My fathers company deals with a Swedish company, so I know a few Swedes. It's important to remember that Sweden is probably the most consistently social democrat (if not democratic socialist) country in the west, so "centre-right" is a relative term for Swedes. What we would consider centre-right (e.g. tax cuts and the like) is seen as pretty radical to the Swedes.

The Pirate Party is associated with the former bit torrent website Pirate Bay, which the Swedish government shut down a couple of months ago (damn them!).

Posted by Lewis Holden : 9/18/2006 02:43:00 PM

The Moderates aren't socially conservative. They haven't tried a "compassionate conservative" line either. The whole campaign has mostly been about employment, with little traction in other areas. Thinking about this campaign in American terms is going to lead you astray, Reinfeldt is certainly no Bush... not even close.

Posted by Chefen : 9/18/2006 07:44:00 PM

Chefen: Are any Swedes socially conservative?

I was more aiming at the tactic (practicised by Bush) of pretending to move to the center, then tacking hard right when elected - otherwise known as "lying to the electorate". But I think that will be difficult to get away with in such a diverse coalition.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/18/2006 07:47:00 PM

Yeah there's lots of conservative Swedes. Lots of them vote Social Dem too ironically, it's almost like a religion. You have to remember that the Social Dems play up a mythical role for themselves in the history of the country, so a lot of people who you'd think are conservative vote for them out of a national solidarity feeling. It is quite odd really.

I don't think the new government will go hard right. Only the Christian Democrats are really socially conservative and they are the most minor partner. The rest are more interested in reforming the labour market, to enable more people to work, or reforming education which is lagging in standard, or making the taxes fairer to stop hammering households and energy costs. Social issues were not prominent, immigration, sex, religion, family etc etc did not register.

Posted by Chefen : 9/18/2006 07:57:00 PM

In many ways the centre right victory in Sweeden came at a good time for them. If the Sweedish government had kept on going as they were their social model would have collapsed under the overwhelming costs sooner or later. Also worth noting, as a balance to the sometimes blind praise of the Sweedish social model, is that Sweeden's immigration policies are tighter than anything NZ First and Winston would even talk about ni private.

Also on the Nordic trail. In last years Norwegian election the centre right actually won the popular vote but lost the election because of the distribution of votes to electorates in their electoral system.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/20/2006 08:57:00 AM