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The Swedish political model? Not so fast September 28, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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An oddly unconsidered piece in the IT this last week on the implications of current political events in Europe. In it Duncan McDonnell, professor of politics at Brisbane, Australia, asks: What does a mainstream party do when the only way to get into power is either by striking a deal with its historic rival or by accepting support from a populist party previously considered beyond the pale due to its past?

This is the dilemma that will probably face Irish politicians and Fianna Fáil in particular after the next election. Do they agree to be the junior partners in a grand coalition with Fine Gael or do they cross their red line and do a deal with Sinn Féin, knowing that this might allow them to gain short-term power, but would change a longstanding norm of Irish democracy.
And he does this in the context of the decisions facing the Moderates in Sweden who may have to enter government with the formerly neo-Nazi, and most certainly contemporaneously far-right, Sweden Democrats.

He notes that the options are a grand coalition with the Social Democrats or a minority government propped up by the Sweden Democrats. He notes that the latter has at least until now been regarded as a ‘red line’ which the Moderates do not wish to cross, and in a study only one Moderate MP was open to the idea saying that exclusion allowed the SDs to ‘appear as victims of the political elites’ whereas inclusion might show them up as amateurs.

The jury is still out on whether inclusion or exclusion is a better long-term strategy for dealing with populists. Like the Sweden Democrats, Marine Le Pen’s National Front (now Rassemblement National) has risen to record highs despite ostracism. While in Italy, Matteo Salvini’s League is more popular than ever, after multiple times of being “put to the test” in government over the past two decades. And being in office has certainly not moderated the League either.

He continues:

A leading member of the Sweden Democrats puts it this way: “Whatever the mainstream parties do, we will continue to rise.” By that he meant that, whether the others co-operate with them or not, his party is increasingly setting the political agenda.

But a thought strikes, is that necessarily the case? While the SDs did well at this last election, Michael Hennigan in comments notes that their increase in support was considerably smaller than that experienced between 2010 and 2014 and that “the 2015 surge in immigration is unlikely to be repeated”. That could change, but it would be unwise to assume that immigration into the EU is something that the centre-right, who will certainly be impacted by the rise of further right and far-right parties, are unawrea of this and will not do something to counteract it. And one has to wonder what will sustain such parties – or how they will of necessity grow into much larger groups?

And I’m unconvinced that inclusion of further right parties is the way forward. As he notes himself, the League hasn’t faltered due to that. If not the League (or the FPO in Austria) then what of other parties? And here we get to the crux. There’s a reason why parties from a democratic background should have red lines in relation to the far right, particularly those parties that have evident neo-nazi roots. That ideology, as history demonstrates, is one utterly hostile to democracy. There’s no onus on parties to work with anyone at all.

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1. 1729torus - September 28, 2018

SF are too strong to contain forever. If Ireland is going to be governed by a de facto coalition of FF and FG of some kind, SF will continue to advance in the polls since they are the only effective opposition as long as FG/FF try to freeze them out.

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2. 1729torus - September 28, 2018

The natural historicalsupport level for FG, as a big party that represents the top fraction of society, seems to be around 25%.

However, FG historically enjoyed the willingness of Labour to put them in power. Labour’s guaranteed support let FG be a credible party of power and FF’s opposite number whilst sticking to the centre-right.

In 2016, the weakness in FG’s position became apparent. Without a pliant Labour party, FG have realised that 25% of the top part of society isn’t enough to make you a party of power on its own.

On their current trajectory, FG would have been increasingly pushed to the margins (a bit like SF), and so their votes, donations, and support would have suffered. In Germany, the FDP rarely get above 10%.

I can imagine FG falling under 20% if they had stuck with their policy of telling everywhere outside of South Dublin to go f*ck themselves.

Leo Varadkar has accordingly been attempting to shift FG into a mass party of the centre-right, like the German CDU. This is the only way that FG can hope to make its own fate and not be dependent on other big parties for support.

Interestingly, FG seem to be going for libertarian policies to gain broad support rather than just becoming more Social Democratic. This is presumably to protect their right flank.

They are apparently trying to be more Pro Market and less Pro Business in other words.

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