by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Sweden’s elections on Sunday carry the same lesson we should have already learned with Brexit and Donald Trump’s 2016 victory: Those whom political elites view as “deplorables” are going to have their say. The question now is whether elites will continue to ignore them and the lessons they bring.
Once a poster child for political consensus, Sweden is now deeply polarized. Parties on the traditional right and those on the traditional left wound up in a photo finish, each with about 41 percent of the vote. The remaining 18 percent of the vote was captured by Sweden Democrats (SD), a once obscure populist party with some roots in 1980s neofascism.
It has since largely cleaned up its act and seen its support skyrocket as other parties have ignored its key issues of immigration and crime. The SD claims it now practices a “zero-tolerance” policy against members who make openly racist or anti-Semitic statements.
Despite the growth of the Sweden Democrats, none of the seven mainstream parties will have anything to do with the party, with most labeling it “racist” and “extremist.” …
… Whatever their stated reason, the refusal of all other parties to negotiate with the SD may now lead to political paralysis in Sweden, since neither the combined forces of the Right or the Left parties can command the majority needed to form a stable government.
The irony is that all of this turmoil is happening during relatively good economic times. Just as with Brexit and Trump’s victory, the populist revolt in Sweden is taking place during a time of falling unemployment. But the instability of today’s job markets and slow wage growth cancel that out.