Sweden’s December Agreement abandons parliament for a postmodern, back-room “party democracy”

Sweden’s December Agreement can be described simply as an agreement between six of the eight political parties in parliament to abdicate their “rights” and duties – when in opposition – to oppose a minority government made up of some of the other parties to the Agreement. The Agreement negates the representative strengths of the eight parties in parliament as established by the electorate. It is claimed that it is to ensure the continuity of government by making the opposition of the two parties not represented, impotent. The two not represented are on the far left and on the extreme, nationalistic, racist right.

Parliamentary democracy as such has been abandoned in that two particular parties – representing 20% of the electorate – are being suppressed by the others getting together in a “collusion of the cowardly”. “Truth” is simply whatever promotes my (or my group’s) will or interests. None of the party leaders who signed-up to the December Agreement gain much credit. None managed to raise their vision to anything beyond maintaining their own party positions within the pig trough. The Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven was not prepared to resign or face a new election. The new leader of the Moderate Party, Anna Kinberg Batra was too new and too scared to face a new election. The Environmental Party’s Åsa Romson was only too happy with her meagre 7% to remain at the “big table” and in government. The small party leaders from the Alliance don’t come out very well. They were running scared of being wiped out in any new election and were not prepared to come out from under the protective umbrella of the Moderates. Each party had its own fears and it was an agreement based on fear and truly a collusion of the cowardly. There is not even a pretence of trying to represent the interests of their voters. It is all about the “lowest common denominator” and no hint of aspiring to the “highest common numerator”. It is the triumph of a grey, bureaucratic pragmatism over any hint of vision or idealism.

It occurs to me that this is nothing but postmodernism applied to parliamentary democracy. It is whatever you want to make of it. It is a form of “postmodern democracy” which degrades a traditional parliamentary democracy to something else. I take postmodernism to mean a world where

our interests and desires often use “reason” to promote their fulfillment; “truth” is simply whatever promotes my (or my group’s) will or interests.  There is a “political agenda” in whatever we claim to be true. Knowledge is not neutral. (This observation utilizes the “hermeneutics of suspicion.”) In response to the unbiased certainty, postmodernism emphasizes that our ideas and judgments are embedded within a historical-cultural context; so we can never fully remove ourselves from it by pure reflection. 

The will of the electorate as represented in parliament has been over-ruled by the party leaders in the back-rooms. If this is the new world of parliamentary democracy then parliament itself is irrelevant and meaningless. It is only the back-rooms and the decisions taken there which apply. Electoral democracy manifested in a parliament is abandoned and it is only those who choose the party leaders who then meet in the back-room who matter (and to some extent this is already the basic flaw in all multi-party democracies).


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