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General Election in Sweden: This is what happens when liberals let the far-right set the agenda

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Here's an interesting article in the Huffington Post on the general election this past Sunday in Sweden:

Sweden Is What Happens When Liberals Let The Far-Right Set The Agenda. The country’s left-wing Social Democrats just saw their worst election result in generations.


Sweden’s Social Democrats are one of the most successful political parties in modern history, winning the highest share of the vote in every national election for the past 100 years. But on Sunday, the once-dominant party scored its worst election result in generations. Its decline is a symptom of when liberal parties let radical-right populists dictate the political agenda.

The Social Democrats won a little over 28 percent of the vote, the most of any party but far short of giving their center-left bloc a majority. Meanwhile, the far-right Sweden Democrats won 17.6 percent of the vote in its best ever result. An exit poll showed that almost a fifth of the far-right voters cast their ballots for the Social Democrats the last election. 

[...] The liberal party’s losses are at least partly self-inflicted. Faced with growing support for the Sweden Democrats, the Social Democrats focused much of their campaign on issues such as immigration and crime, where the far-right controls the narrative. And rather than countering the Sweden Democrats’ anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant rhetoric with a vision of their own, the liberals shifted to the right with proposals that included sending the army into neighborhoods with high crime rates.

“They adopted the [Sweden Democrats’] agenda because they were afraid of losing voters,” said Ulf Bjereld, a professor at Gothenburg University and an active member of the Social Democrats.

“It was a political mistake.”


I agree with this conclusion. The Swedish Social Democrats were "saved" (they could have done much, much worse than 28% TBH) when they late in the election campaign actually started countering the racist politics of the Sweden Democrats with their own politics and solutions. In addition to this, they also - finally - promised some much-needed welfare investments.

1061986282_socialdemocratselectionsupport2018sweden.thumb.png.27097d2fae006f4b22434f0eb4b5b32d.pngIn the graph above we can see how the voter support for the Social Democrats has progressed during the election campaign. In phase 1 they were all about harder punishment for crime and tougher limits on immigration and refugees - something which just resulted in reinforcing the racist worldview of the SwedenDemocrats and a country near collapse (despite the fact that Sweden today is one of the richest, happiest and successful countries in the world). Phase 2 is when the support for the Social Democrats started to rise again, coincidentally this was also around the time when they campaigned more on traditionally strong social democratic talking points, such as welfare investments and economic redistribution.

So the general election in Sweden clearly shows IMO that progressives, socialists, and liberals will always lose when they let the far-right set the political agenda.

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