Amateur dramatics on the Swedish political landscape

Yesterday was a busy day in Swedish politics, but it was amateur theatricality and not any high drama. I am left with the perception of some unruly teenagers (the Swedish Democrats) acting like hooligans in a classroom but where the adults (the other parties) have not the faintest idea what to do. They cannot expel the unruly elements and can only threaten not to speak to them. And they are then surprised that the unruliness continues. A most unedifying spectacle.

The Sweden Democrats announced yesterday that they would vote for the opposition’s alternative budget today in parliament rather than merely abstain to allow the red/green government’s budget to pass.

A Government Crisis will therefore be upon is when the vote is taken later this morning.

The government went into full panic mode last night and invited (begged) the opposition alliance (but not the Sweden Democrats or the Left Party) to emergency talks last night. They had to attend of course and they met with the Social Democrats and their Environment Party colleagues. Of course they just reiterated that it was not an opposition’s duty to help the government to pass its own budget and they would just be voting for their own alternative today.

The Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, is in a bind. He does not have many options. Once he loses the vote today he can either call a new election (cannot be called before 29th December) or he can dump the green millstone around his neck and try and build a Grand Coalition in the German style with the moderates. Actually this is not that crazy. If he dumps the greens and the far left (who he has accommodated to a great extent so far), it is conceivable that sufficient common ground could be found with the Moderate Party for a very stable, majority government. Of course there would be some areas of ideological conflict but they would both have to leave those differences aside for their term together and revisit them in better days.

My own opinion is that Löfven and the Social Democrats have been weakened rather than strengthened by their association with the Greens and the Far Left. In fact the weight given to these minority parties has – in part – precipitated the crisis. The deep reds and the greens are anathema to the Sweden Democrats. The other parties would like to have no truck with the far-right Sweden Democrats (who I still perceive to be a bunch of junkies and hooligans) even though 13% of the country voted for them. They are attempting to make them political pariahs but they are not being very skillful about it. The other parties are coming across as bullies and are failing to show up the far-right extremists for what they truly are. (They have not yet learned that just shouting how bad the Sweden Democrats are does not address the reasons why their voters shifted their allegiance). Of course, they are all now blaming the Sweden Democrats for the crisis, but the reality is that the Social Democrats have been more than a little incompetent in giving undue weight to the wishes of the greens and the far left in their budget proposition. The bottom line is that the government has not had the skill to put together the support needed to get their budget passed.

All the other 7 parties have been rather clumsy – and inept – in their efforts to marginalise the Sweden Democrats and have only succeeded in catapulting them to the fulcrum of an artificial and ill-conceived crisis. I was listening to some of the comments yesterday from some of the politicians of the past and who are no longer in politics. I can’t help feeling that the current parties are lacking in pondus and could well use some older and more experienced advisors.

I am also quite sure that any sales or marketing manager from industry could teach these political parties a thing or two about how to marginalise a competitor – even in their home market.

Bringing in the extremists from the left or the right will not work.

Swedish political landscape 2014

Swedish political landscape 2014


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