[Discussion] European Political Landscape

There are three elections occurring over the coming year that are of huge importance. They are:

Italian Constitutional Referendum - 04/12/16
French Presidential Election - 1st Round 23/04/17, 2nd Round 07/05/17
German Federal Election - 22/10/17

This thread is to discuss the political realities, results and fallout around these elections. The scope is broad but try to keep the post relevant to the elections referenced above.

Edit - Updated thread title

David Cameron is too high on that list

Interesting development in the Balkens. Macedonia will now change it's name to North Macedonia and Greece will stop blocking it's membership bid for the EU and NATO.

There are laws, and there are laws. I'd say this one's the latter.

Hungary passes 'Stop Soros' law banning help for migrants

The Hungarian parliament has passed new legislation that criminalises lawyers and activists who help asylum seekers.

Anyone "facilitating illegal immigration" will face a year in jail.

Viktor Orban's government has dubbed the legislation the "Stop Soros law", after the billionaire philanthropist it accuses of supporting Muslim migrants.

The vote in Budapest came hours after a number of European Union leaders agreed to hold crisis talks on how to overhaul asylum rules.

Hungary says immigration threatens its national security, but its hardline stance and new law have faced widespread international criticism.

The UN refugee agency urged Hungarian officials to scrap the proposed law and legal experts from the Council of Europe human rights organisation appealed for the vote to be postponed until they had submitted a review of the measures on Friday.

A report by the Council's Venice Commission leaked to the BBC said the Hungarian legislation "criminalises organisational activities which are not directly related to the materialisation of the illegal migration".

'Love thy neighbor' indeed.

Technically this could go in "All Around The World", but I'm putting it here. Anyway...

So, in a shocking development, Recep Tayyip Erdogan won the recent Turkish election.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is taking on extensive new executive powers following his outright election victory in Sunday's poll.

Parliament has been weakened and the post of prime minister abolished, as measures approved in a controversial referendum last year take effect.

Defeated opposition candidate Muharrem Ince said Turkey was now entering a dangerous period of "one-man rule".

Mr Erdogan polled nearly 53% in the most fiercely fought election in years.

Mr Ince received just 31%, despite a lively campaign attracting huge crowds.

Mr Erdogan, 64, has presided over a strong economy and built up a solid support base. But he has also polarised opinion, cracking down on opponents and putting some 160,000 people in jail.

Congratulations have come in from around the world, though some Western leaders have been slow to react. Russian President Vladimir Putin talked of Mr Erdogan's "great political authority and mass support".

Turkey election: Country's heart split over Erdogan victory

Ecstatic/distraught, relieved/incredulous: after yet another crushing Erdogan victory, Turkey's heart is again split in two.

How did it come to this?

His critics had hoped for so much. A fractured opposition had united for the parliamentary vote and looked set to deprive the president of his majority.

And in the presidential election, the centre-left CHP believed they had fielded a winner: Muharrem Ince was charismatic, he had the common touch, he drew vast crowds.

Polls suggested he would force Recep Tayyip Erdogan into a second-round run-off.

Turkey's economic boom has stalled, with inflation at 12% and the Turkish lira losing almost a fifth of its value this year, prompting anger among Mr Erdogan's support base.

A fiery nationalist, Meral Aksener, looked set to eat into the president's votes. Mr Erdogan had stumbled in rallies. For the first time in 15 years, the opposition had dared to dream.

But Turkey's serial election winner proved his doubters wrong on both counts. At Mr Erdogan's party headquarters, there was an eruption of joy: the burst of fireworks mixed with the boom of his campaign songs; flags bearing his face were held aloft.

"He means everything to us - this country would cease to exist without him," one supporter told the BBC.
"Terrorist organisations lost, the Turkish nation won," said another, his two-year-old wearing an Erdogan head banner. "Real Muslims have won."


Dictators love winning "elections".

"Terrorist organisations lost, the Turkish nation won," said another, his two-year-old wearing an Erdogan head banner. "Real Muslims have won."


As for that strong economy, I recently read something that the rich are changing their lira into foreign currencies at an alarming rate. Kinda goes with the high inflation mentioned above.

Axon wrote:

Interesting development in the Balkens. Macedonia will now change it's name to North Macedonia and Greece will stop blocking it's membership bid for the EU and NATO.

Greeks, generally speaking are seriously not happy about this. It's not that Greece has an area called Macedonia, it's that Alexander the Great is from Macedonia...lots of modern Greek identity still comes from Ancient Greece. I was seriously surprised when this came up with discussions in my class of high school seniors. They were...fiercely against.

Wait, can you explain that a little more deeply? Greece (broad strokes) doesn't like Macedonia because they are upset that Alexander the Great wasn't literally born in Greece? That... doesn't seem like it could be right, well, I guess in a post-2016 world that doesn't 100% surprise me, but still.

Yonder wrote:

Wait, can you explain that a little more deeply? Greece (broad strokes) doesn't like Macedonia because they are upset that Alexander the Great wasn't literally born in Greece? That... doesn't seem like it could be right, well, I guess in a post-2016 world that doesn't 100% surprise me, but still.

It's part of their collective national myth. Alexander was a critical part of spreading Hellenic culture (specifically to the east) and they view that as part of why Greece (the concept) is great.
Macedonia being a distinct entity that has recognition means that this part of the idea that is Greece really isn't Greek.

DISCLAIMER: I'm an idiot and have never been to Greece.

Merkel, to Survive, Agrees to Border Camps for Migrants

Unsurprising. I think a lot of groups badly miscalculated how the migrant crisis would be received in Europe, especially in the aftermath of austerity. There is not a nation in Europe where 2015 Angela Merkel could get elected today.

I've said this before, I think the single most impactful events of the 2010s, in the West and arguably globally, are easily the Arab Spring and Syrian Civil War. So much about our entire world today has been directly influenced by those events and their effects.

BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel, who staked her legacy on welcoming hundreds of thousands of migrants into Germany, agreed on Monday to build border camps for asylum seekers and to tighten the border with Austria in a political deal to save her government.

It was a spectacular turnabout for a leader who has been seen as the standard-bearer of the liberal European order but who has come under intense pressure at home from the far right and from conservatives in her governing coalition over her migration policy.

Although the move to appease the conservatives exposed her growing political weakness, Ms. Merkel will limp on as chancellor. For how long is unclear. The nationalism and anti-migrant sentiment that has challenged multilateralism elsewhere in Europe is taking root — fast — in mainstream German politics.

Ms. Merkel agreed to the latest policy after an insurrection over migration policy led by her interior minister, Horst Seehofer, threatened to bring down her coalition.

Mr. Seehofer demanded that Germany block migrants at the border if they have no papers, or have already registered in another European country.

Ms. Merkel, who supports free movement across Europe’s borders, has been opposed to any moves effectively resurrecting border controls until Monday night, when she made the deal to stay in power.

In Denmark, Harsh New Laws for Immigrant ‘Ghettos’

COPENHAGEN — When Rokhaia Naassan gives birth in the coming days, she and her baby boy will enter a new category in the eyes of Danish law. Because she lives in a low-income immigrant neighborhood described by the government as a “ghetto,” Rokhaia will be what the Danish newspapers call a “ghetto parent” and he will be a “ghetto child.”

Starting at the age of 1, “ghetto children” must be separated from their families for at least 25 hours a week, not including nap time, for mandatory instruction in “Danish values,” including the traditions of Christmas and Easter, and Danish language. Noncompliance could result in a stoppage of welfare payments. Other Danish citizens are free to choose whether to enroll children in preschool up to the age of six.

Denmark’s government is introducing a new set of laws to regulate life in 25 low-income and heavily Muslim enclaves, saying that if families there do not willingly merge into the country’s mainstream, they should be compelled.

For decades, integrating immigrants has posed a thorny challenge to the Danish model, intended to serve a small, homogeneous population. Leaders are focusing their ire on urban neighborhoods where immigrants, some of them placed there by the government, live in dense concentrations with high rates of unemployment and gang violence.

Politicians’ description of the ghettos has become increasingly sinister. In his annual New Year’s speech, Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen warned that ghettos could “reach out their tentacles onto the streets” by spreading violence, and that because of ghettos, “cracks have appeared on the map of Denmark.” Politicians who once used the word “integration” now call frankly for “assimilation.”

That tough approach is embodied in the “ghetto package.” Of 22 proposals presented by the government in early March, most have been agreed upon by a parliamentary majority, and more will be subject to a vote in the fall.

Some are punitive: One measure under consideration would allow courts to double the punishment for certain crimes if they are committed in one of the 25 neighborhoods classified as ghettos, based on residents’ income, employment status, education levels, number of criminal convictions and “non-Western background.” Another would impose a four-year prison sentence on immigrant parents who force their children to make extended visits to their country of origin — described here as “re-education trips” —in that way damaging their “schooling, language and well-being.” Another would allow local authorities to increase their monitoring and surveillance of “ghetto” families.

Some proposals have been rejected as too radical, like one from the far-right Danish People’s Party that would confine “ghetto children” to their homes after 8 p.m. (Challenged on how this would be enforced, Martin Henriksen, the chairman of Parliament’s integration committee, suggested in earnest that young people in these areas could be fitted with electronic ankle bracelets.)

At this summer’s Folkemodet, an annual political gathering on the island of Bornholm, the justice minister, Soren Pape Poulsen, shrugged off the rights-based objection.

“Some will wail and say, ‘We’re not equal before the law in this country,’ and ‘Certain groups are punished harder,’ but that’s nonsense,” he said, adding that the increased penalties would affect only people who break the law.

To those claiming the measures single out Muslims, he said: “That’s nonsense and rubbish. To me this is about, no matter who lives in these areas and who they believe in, they have to profess to the values required to have a good life in Denmark.”

Amid Growing Uproar, Poland to Remove 27 Supreme Court Justices

WARSAW — First Poland’s governing party labeled her and her fellow judges communists and obstructionists. Next it took control of the Constitutional Tribunal, which reviews the constitutionality of legislation. Then it co-opted the body responsible for selecting new judges.

This week, it is forcing her to step down.

“I don’t want to say that I am terrified,” Poland’s top Supreme Court judge, Malgorzata Gersdorf, said days before the government forced her out of her job. “But without a doubt this is not a direction I would like to go in, nor support, as I think it destroys what has been built over the last 25 years.”

For the past three years, Justice Gersdorf has watched as the governing party, Law and Justice, took control of the courts, undermining judicial independence step by step. The culmination of that effort came on Tuesday, when 27 of the 72 judges on the Supreme Court were expected to be forced out by a mandatory retirement age of 65 and a new disciplinary chamber was established to keep judges and prosecutors from stepping out of line.

Major protests against the changes in the judiciary are scheduled for Tuesday. And Justice Gersdorf and dozens of other judges have vowed to show up for work Wednesday morning, setting the stage for a possible confrontation with the authorities if they are barred from the building.

Officials from the governing party say they are simply overhauling a corrupt system that obstructs the will of the people. But critics, both in Poland and abroad, contend they are creating a system where the courts will be subservient to politicians, who then will be able to change the constitution through judicial rulings.

In his zeal to create what he calls a Fourth Republic, free of any vestiges of the days of Communist rule and vest the state with ever greater power, the party’s leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski has set the nation on collision course with the European Union, which views the changes as threat to the rule of law and the Western values at the heart of the treaty binding the bloc of nations together.

Re: Merkel. That's not the take I'm seeing. Merkel basically 'agreed' to a plan that had been EU approved since 2015.
Yes, this will weaken Germany politically, but only because one faction was willing to throw Germany under a bus and engage in brinksmanship.
At least that's how it was described to me by my Bavarian friends.
A lot of moving parts in a coalition government.

Edit: to be fair though, I'm taking the 'since 2015' bit on faith. Not really up to speed on EU immigration policy negotiations and not really sure where I would start to confirm, so... Grain of salt.

Rezzy wrote:

Re: Merkel. That's not the take I'm seeing.

I don't know about the 2015 approved plan either, but Merkel appears to have come out of the mess much better off than Seehofer.

Google-Translate of n-tv article about today's survey results. The graph speaks for itself. According to a survey by a respected German institute, this fight ended poorly for Seehofer and his CSU, even if he eventually got a statement of intent that agrees to a number of his demands.

Background: The major parties:
CDU - Merkel's party. Slightly right of center
CSU - Seehofer's party and sister-party of the CDU, but the CSU only exists in Bavaria. Definitely more right than the CDU, which exists everywhere except Bavaria.
SPD - the other coalition partner, and in the past the main rival to CDU/CSU. More left of center. It has lost a lot of ground in the last few years and is at historic lows in voting results.
Grüne - The Greens. Mostly self explanatory. Definitely left of center. They are in the opposition, but almost were a part of the government in the first coalition attempt early this year.
Linke - Far left of center though mostly respectable. Also opposition. Although I agree with most of their positions in principle, I rarely see realistic policy proposals from them. They are good at being opposition, but I'm not sure how effective they would be as an actual part of a governing coalition.
FDP - The free marketers. On social policy they represent left- as well as right of center positions, depending on the issue. They were the reason the CDU/CSU+Grüne+FDP coalition talks early this year abruptly failed, and their approval rating took a dive afterwards
AfD - The mostly-far-right party. Most other parties have categorically ruled out working with them. However, thanks in large part to the migrant issue, their approval rating seems to be continuously increasing. In the elections last year they became the 3rd strongest party after CDU/CSU and SPD. They do especially well in formerly East Germany, which is much more ethnically homogenous and somewhat economically depressed compared to the West.

Background/commentary to the question: "Is it good, that Seehofer remains interior minister?" No/Yes/Don't know
- interestingly, only 51% of his own party answer this with "yes". Sunday night he had announced to the CSU that he would step down as interior minister as well as head of the CSU before reconsidering an hour or two later, and wanting one last face-to-face with Merkel.
- the only party that strongly supports him in remaining is the AfD

Overall, a slight majority believes Merkel achieved the better result in the deal, though most are unsure who "won", and almost nobody believes they will have a good working relationship in the future (it has been tense for years, with Seehofer going behind Merkel's back to bolster positions of Hungary's Prime Minister Orban, among others).

Interestingly, here is part 2 of the survey.
Not only do the majority of Germans believe that this fight was way out of line and Seehofer should quit, but the vast majority (73% overall) also believe that it will not benefit the CSU in gaining votes from the AfD in Bavaria's upcoming elections. That was a motivation that a large majority believed was either the only, or a significant reason for this battle.
It might work a bit though. 42% of AfD voters think the ploy might draw some votes back to the CSU.

The CSU has one time in the past threatened to break from the CDU and go its own way. This was 1976. The break lasted only a few weeks. The national CDU announed that they might create the CDU-Bavaria. Shortly thereafter the two made up.

LeapingGnome wrote:

'Love thy neighbor' indeed.

Look, Hungary has to protect it's cultural heritage built on Christianity and its values. If all that means is criminalizing love, tolerance, and "others", then there is clearly no cognitive dissonance to be found here.

I've just started putting together our emergency preparedness supplies as recommended by the Swedish government. With the current maneouvering from Trump and Boris the threat of NATO collapsing and Sweden falling in Russia's Baltic expansion crosshairs is very real for us here. I'm really scared right now.

Well, this isn't good. Part of me hopes it puts an end to Erdoğan but the powers he has amassed into his current office doesn't exactly bode well whoever replaces him.

You know, for all of Trump's faults he is going to get Brunson back. Erdoğan brought a knife to a gun fight.

European but Spainish banks in particular exposure to this isn't ideal but expect the ECB to step in a buy debts off any banks in trouble. Again not ideal but it'll stop interest rate increases by the ECB and weaken the Euro against the Dollar which aren't entirely dreadful outcomes.

Of course, I'm assuming the Army will step in long before Erdoğan ruins the country. If they don't, that will display an interesting development in of itself.

We discussed it during the coup attempt but it bares repeating. The Army isn't a bastion of democracy and freedom of often portrayed in other NATO countries. The previous coups were completely self-serving and resulted in brutal regimes. So if the Army doesn't move against Erdoğan we can conclude that his purges and promotion individuals sympathetic to him have worked.

How the Far Right Conquered Sweden

STOCKHOLM — To understand why Sweden, a bastion of social democracy, might end up with a far-right party in government after national elections on Sunday, you need to take a walk with Ahmed Abdirahman.

An American-educated Somali immigrant who works as a policy analyst at the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Abdirahman grew up and now lives in the suburb of Rinkeby-Tensta, where some 90 percent of residents have a foreign background, roughly 80 percent live on welfare or earn low incomes and 42 percent are under age 25. It is a violent place: Sixteen people were killed there in 2016, mostly in drug-related conflicts, an unheard-of number in this typically peaceful country. As we walk along one of its main streets at 7 p.m., shopkeepers pull down the metal shutters in front of their windows, while young masked men on scooters start speeding through the streets. A police helicopter hovers overhead.

The segregation and violence of Rinkeby-Tensta, and the likelihood that the far-right, anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats party will win the most votes in this weekend’s national elections, are both the result of the country’s long-running unwillingness to deal with the realities of its immigration crisis.

For decades, Sweden, once a racially and culturally homogeneous country with an expansive social welfare system, insisted that it could absorb large numbers of non-European migrants without considering how those migrants should be integrated into Swedish society.

As they did in cities across Western Europe, migrants tended to cluster in low-income neighborhoods; facing poor job prospects and rampant employment discrimination, they naturally turned inward. More young women have started wearing the hijab recently, Mr. Abdirahman tells me, and more young men “internalize the otherness” — rejected by their new society, they embrace the stereotypes imposed upon them. This can lead to a point where they reject gay rights or liberalism as “white, Western ideas,” and even attack firefighters because they represent the state.

As we walk around, Mr. Abdirahman, who is single and childless, confesses: “When I came here in 1998, to me this place was paradise. Today, I wouldn’t want my children to grow up here.”

Mr. Abdirahman says he was lucky: His mother encouraged him to contribute to society and get a good education. He earned a degree in international studies in New York, then worked in Geneva and with the United States Embassy here before going to work with the chamber of commerce. Not all immigrants get the same push at home, he says; some parents discouraged their youngsters from going to the city center to mix. Sweden, he is afraid, has entered a vicious circle of immigration, segregation and growing mutual hostility.

The situation grew worse with the latest mass influx of refugees, in 2015, after which a number of suburbs became almost exclusively migrant. Considered “no go” areas by some Swedes, these neighborhoods are known to outsiders only from horrific headlines. What people don’t get to see, Mr. Abdirahman worries, is the bus driver or the cleaning lady working themselves ragged to get their children into a university.

None of this is new, and yet the government, dominated by the traditionally strong Social Democrats and the centrist Moderate Party, did far too little. That left an opening for the Sweden Democrats, until recently a group relegated to the racist fringe of Swedish politics. In the past few years, the party has recast itself; just like the populist Alternative für Deutschland party in Germany and the Five Star Movement in Italy, it has repositioned itself as anti-establishment and anti-immigrant. The Sweden Democrats accuses all other political actors and the media of “destroying” Sweden, calls for a suspension of the right to asylum and promotes an exit of Sweden from the European Union.

The "immigration crisis" isn't that they have too many, it's that the natives won't welcome them, thus perpetuating a cycle.

Mixolyde wrote:

The "immigration crisis" isn't that they have too many, it's that the natives won't welcome them, thus perpetuating a cycle.

I find that too simplistic. Maybe particularly in Sweden who previously seems to have been much more welcoming of immigrants/refugees than most other places.
I agree that the number of immigrants is not itself the main culprit for the crisis. Europe and Sweden could potentially (but not practically, given our current failures) take in much higher number of immigrants/refugees than they have. The immigration issues in Sweden are the exact same, as in countries which took fewer immigrants/refugees in.
However integration hasn't worked well at all - regardless of numbers. Which certainly is a crisis - if nothing else, by fueling the populist racist parties.

Living in Denmark, I find Sweden an interesting case for what has happened here and elsewhere, due to the other Swedish parties, so far, really standing strong on not accepting the "Swedish racist party" (aka. Sweden Democrats). Whereas in Denmark the similar "Danish racist party" (so called Danish People's Party), was also at first shunned in the 90s, but then completely embraced by moderates/conservatives in the 00's, and now embraced by nearly the whole political spectrum. Embraced in an attempt not to lose more voters, or even get back voters (which at first seemed to actually work - but the Swedish 'case' is partly interesting to me, because it might tell a different story).
The Danish Racist Party has arguably been the most influential party in Denmark for 15 years - despite never being in government - neither the "left" or the "right" parties can really do much these days without DPP having a say. So very different approaches in otherwise quite similar countries.
And yet very similar outcomes in terms of how large these parties has become (got to wait for the Swedish election of course). Just around 20%. Comparing with other countries can be more difficult, due to other election systems (two-party systems will blur the actual support, and winner-takes-it-all might hide the actual support). Le Pen was at 21% in France though (before the two-party second round skewing numbers)
Heck, guesses at Trumps support base often seem to hover around 20% too.
The outstanding question for me is, if the other parties in Sweden continue to shun Sweden Democrats, will they continue to grow, or stay at 20%. I guess we might not get the 'chance' to see that experiment unfold, if the moderates end up working with the Sweden Democrats after the election.

I dont think there is much we can do to prevent a fair share of populations in 'western democracies' right now falling for nationalism, fascism and bigotry. Shunning them don't work, embracing them don't work, explaining to them why they are wrong wont work, letting them take over government sure doesnt seem to work (though I guess we technically have yet to see how future US elections shakes out). Hillary's deplorables comment still seems fairly spot on - but not helpful either.
However if those deplorables being hateful toward foreigners could be blamed for all integration issues, it might be convenient as an excuse for our integration failure, but I really cant see that being the truth, especially not in Sweden.
These are social issues and should be addressed as such. More or less the same issues affecting 'natives' in our countries. If we could magically get rid of bigotry, I dont think it would solve a thing in that regard (well, other than getting rid of bigotry being nice in its own right).

These issues wont be solved for decades, or longer. Likely our only hope is that those 20%ers dont grow much larger in proportional multi-party democracies (and in two-party election systems... that the primaries manage to stop them before they get so far...)

(P.S. Not saying only 20% voting for the racist parties are racists themselves, obviously there are likely lots of racists voting for other parties too - they are just not willing to switch over to the 'real deal' in elections. Yet.)

Well said, Shadout. We've had this back and forth for years now and unfortunately our fears have been realised to a degree we might debate. What neither of us saw, however, was the use of "fake news" in order to generate more talking points from this subject and supercharge the issue. Even that article for the NY Times, which comes from a German author to be fair, repeats the same "no go" myth. Whatever about elsewhere, there was a deliberate attempt not to group refugees into ghettos which is outlined by this Irish journalist who lives in Sweden. He even says that he has never felt threaten in any Swedish city. But sadly, the term is now a fact.

My point is that even if we do correct our policies in order to avoid the issues you rightly point out, we still may fail. Not that we shouldn't try but it's an incredibly sobering thought.

Anyway, lets see what happens tomorrow.

Mixolyde wrote:

The "immigration crisis" isn't that they have too many, it's that the natives won't welcome them, thus perpetuating a cycle.

Too simplistic. I live in Sweden and work with immigrants. Sometimes the difference in Culture is almost too big to bridge within one generation. Where a Swede would think somebody would stay and work hard at this place to make promotion and learn something. Somebody from Somalia or Eritrea - raised in a corrupt system and grown up in nomad-culture - would thankfully pick the fruits they are offered, and travel on when it dries up. I've seen families of a man with 3 wives (on paper, officially two are his sisters) and 12 kids move from a home because they repeatedly didn't comply to the rules (which they as analfabetics weren't able to read, let alone understand) and pop up in a kommun nearby, asking for help.

I know it is ethical and morally just to shelter people who flee from war, corruption and hunger. But after years and years of working with some, I wonder if trying to fit them all in our society is the answer. Thankfully there are more succes-stories of beautiful people blending in like a fairy tale, but sometimes the people who don't make it seem to fall apart. Too stupid, damaged or handicapped too fit in and integrate, step two is that their kids don't educate well. These kids are not supported to learn and get an education, try the criminal path and find out they are too stupid for that due to missing education. In the end they adapt some 'tough' rapper attitude mixed with extreme religious insights so that at least they are able to shock and frighten people, which is understandable if all else fails.

Sad thing is I see how and where it goes wrong, but the whole migration-story is so multi-facetted and complex that I don't have any answers or solutions. Fact is the problem starts over there, in the East and Africa. And it still amazes me that our Western Countries say it is a problem and keep selling weapons to them...

Thanks for the personal insight. That is really interesting and nuanced.

The anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats fail to achieve an electoral breakthrough

Their vote rose at the election on September 9th, but far less than they hoped

VOTERS have a funny habit of wrecking pundits’ storylines. The election on September 9th in Sweden was supposed to be a rebuke of the country’s generous refugee policies during the migrant crisis of 2015, and yet another signal that European populism is on the rise. The anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats were to become the country’s biggest or second-biggest party. The governing Social Democrats would fall victim to the malaise that afflicts centre-left parties around the world. And the Moderates and their bloc of centre-right parties, the Alliance, were expected to win a solid enough plurality to unseat Prime Minister Stefan Lofven and form the next government.

Instead, the Social Democrats won, or at least did not lose. Polls had shown them with as little as 23% of the vote, but they ended up with 28.4%, just 2.8 percentage points less than four years earlier and still the largest party by far. The Moderates’ 19.8% was also better than most recent polls, but still 3.5 percentage points less than in 2014, not a resounding mandate for their leader, Ulf Kristersson. The Sweden Democrats went from 12.9% to 17.6%—a hefty increase, but not enough for them to become the second-largest party, as they had hoped. The result fell well short of predictions; some pollsters had put them in the low twenties, and one or two had even suggested that they would end up as the largest party. A high turnout, partly driven by fears of just such a breakthrough, may have helped hold their share down.

Meanwhile, the Sweden Democrats have turned in a somewhat disappointing performance. The party’s leader, Jimmie Akesson (pictured), immediately declared his willingness to form a government with the Moderates. But while some in that party think it is time to include the populists in the country’s political framework, most Moderates would be deeply uncomfortable with such an arrangement, and the Centre and Liberal parties have adamantly rejected it. Mr Lofven could lose a no-confidence vote but then end up in power for a second term after all.

A better and more nuanced report and not the usual hyperbolic article we are seeing in the anglosphere.

Something also bares pointing out that some elsewhere might not be completely cognizant of: the far-right has already been in power in Scandinavia. Sweden is actually the only that hasn't had a far-right party yet. It actually might occur in Sweden and go the way of the other populists and diminish once people realise your policies are nonsense. My point is if some outlets think this is some canary in the coalmine they are late by years at this point.

FYI, it's free to sign up to the Economist. It's European reporting has improved recently.

They certainly got less than you could have feared. Still, 18% is quite a lot.
Really good to see the Social Democrats not imploding, as they have done in other countries recently. But again, also the worst result they have ever had in Sweden.
Seems very unclear what will happen now however.

Just to continue my Sweden-Denmark comparison a little bit, it was interesting that Sweden Democrats ended lower than the polls expected. In Denmark the Danish People's party has beaten their polls in pretty much every single election. The main theory has always been that some people just wont admit they vote for that party, though that explanation seems weaker and weaker these days.
In the last 3 years Danish People's Party has seen their first long-term downturn in polls since they were created in the 1990s , so it will be really interesting whether they beat the polls yet again, or finally decreases in the next election (which is likely in first half of 2019). Sadly, the reason is not fewer racists, nope, another newly created party is trying to be even more racist - they are sitting at 2-3% in polls currently (if you get below 2% you (typically) dont get any seats in parliament, so there is still hope for wasted racist votes ^^)

I think Sweden will 'evolve' in the same way as the politics in the Netherlands did.

When bonafide, academic, well spoken men and women took the helm at the anti-immigration partie(s), about 20% of the Netherlands voted for them. Since then the complete right and left wing in the Netherlands adapted and took over their viewings considering immigrants and Islam and coined their own salonfähig / socially acceptable language.

In the Netherlands you can see a dichotomy between 'dutch' and (happy few) completely integrated muslims and the families who failed to integrate, educate and take their resort into more 'extreme views and attitude' (which could be viewed as clinging to their own culture).

Although the society hardens and gets more bigot now an then, this same bigotry makes some topics more easy to discuss. And sometimes the politicis in the Netherlands is hilarious.

I still laugh when I see this video. Some info is needed to fully recognize the fun:

Speaker of the House of Representatives (The Netherlands):

Enter Khadija Arib, dutch-maroccan mother of three, married, moved to the Netherlands when she was 15 years old.


Thierry Baudet, incumbent of Forum for Democracy, a national-conservative, eurosceptical party.

Baudet wanted to impress and started his Maiden Speech in Latin:

"Quousque tandem factionem cartellum et officiorum machina patientia nostra abutitur, dum navis pretoria ressurectionis ad profi(cis?) cendum parata est"

On which Khadija Arib said to him:

"Dutch is the official language of the cabinet and I would like to keep it that way."

That was funny, had to laugh..




It’s funny, to be fair, but the whole issue is a manipulation from big tech. Memes are covered under the parody exemption from the 2001 Info Sec Directive. Google, Facebook, Twitter and others have done an excellent job of creating another Euro Myth. That’s the real story in that issue. You need to ask yourself why?

Edit: Again, to be fair, the initial draft was poor but political pressure carved out a lot of amendments that made a difference. Some people are still linking or posting the original text for reasons I can only guess. By the by, I find my MEPs quite responsive to constructive feedback. Engagement is very much worthwhile.