Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Right-Wing ‘Populists’ Gain Votes in Sweden and Germany.

with 6 comments

Keep Sweden Swedish: Swedish Democrats, the early years. 

France-Inter this morning compared the success of AfD (Alternative für Deutschlandand the Swedish anti-immigrant party, (which while it no longer uses the sticker pictured still stands for keeping Sweden Swedish) the  Swedish Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna, SD) to the rise of the French Front National and the British UKIP.

Germany:

A conservative German anti-euro party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), has won seats in two more regional parliaments.

Local elections in eastern Germany on Sunday gave the AfD 12.2% in Brandenburg and 10.6% in Thuringia.

The party entered a regional parliament for the first time two weeks ago in Saxony – another eastern German state.

The AfD is mounting a growing challenge to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats. It wants to scrap the euro and sees law and order as a priority.

The party is attracting right-wing supporters, while avoiding links with nationalist extremists.

The Social Democrats (SPD) won in Brandenburg with 32% and are set to remain in power in coalition with the socialist Die Linke who polled 18.9%.

The Christian Democrats (CDU), polled 33.5% in Thuringia, only a few points ahead of Die Linke, who won 28% of the vote.

Until now, the CDU has been in coalition with the SPD in Thuringia but could lose the state to Die Linke if the Social Democrats switch allegiances.

The staunchly pro-euro CDU refuses to form any coalition with the AfD.

The AfD was among many Eurosceptic parties which made large gains in the European elections in May.

The AfD, founded just over a year ago, has seven seats now in the European Parliament. Its MEPs sit in the same grouping as the UK Conservatives, demanding fundamental reform of the EU.

The party campaigns against bailouts for southern European countries, angry that taxpayers’ money has been used to save the euro.

“We are the force that’s renewing the political landscape,” said AfD leader Bernd Lucke, 52, an economics professor.

“One can’t deny it anymore: the citizens are thirsting for political change,” he said. BBC.

Not noted by the BBC report is that the left party, Die Linke, lost more than half of its votes in this election in Brandenburg  (Linke verliert mehr als die Hälfte der Stimmen) while it scored a record total in Thüringen with 28,2%.

Sweden‘s Social Democratic party, which on Sunday ended its longest spell in opposition in a century, faces a weak minority government after the far-right Sweden Democrats emerged as the third-largest party.

The below seems reasonable comment (extracts) by Hela Sverige (Spectator) ,

Who are the Sweden Democrats?

They call themselves “Sweden’s only opposition party”, the implication being that the Stockholm elite is one indistinguishable blob of vested interest.  Like UKIP, they say they are neither left or right. I’d put them closer to Maine Le Pen’s National Front in being anti-immigration and protectionist. Is Ms Romson fair to compare them to racists? There is no doubt that the Sweden Democrats have moved towards the mainstream in recent years and tried to address racism within their ranks. Their language is a mixture of Salmond/Farage-style anger at the elite and populism.

….what unites these Scottish, UK and European nationalist parties is the strategy of posing as the insurgent, out to stand up for the people against a Westminster elite/Riksdag elite etc.

At 2’07, the Sweden Democrats’ video shows the EVIL ELITE in a limo and the narrator says:-

“We want to hit out against the elite who have let our society disintegrate for decades. They are to blame for the problems in our society… It is, therefore, no mystery that politicians want to be elected on the same policies which caused the problems in the first place… Their failed integration politics is solved by more mass immigration. And the problem of begging is solved by having even more people come here to beg.”

Then at 3’03, cut to a picture of a herd of cows…

“And the strangest thing of all: no matter what the other parties say, they still tend to think the same thing. Sometimes they think so similarly that they use the same campaign slogans.”

They accuse the other parties of changing their policies to suit the confected outrage of the Twitter elite in Soder (Stockholm’s equivalent of Islington). They (5.50, with the hard rock music) say they haven’t gone to political school, but worked out their policies from real life. At 6’32 they show a crowd with a placard saying “no to racism” and the narrator saying: “they’ll say anything to shut us up”. This, of course, is what the BNP said here: it almost relished the racism charges.

Over on the New Statesman, George Eaton offers some wider context,

In total, the centre-left alliance won 43.7 per cent of the vote to the centre-right’s 39.1 per cent. Social Democrat leader Stefan Lofven will now seek to form a coalition with the Greens and the Left Party, but the worryingly high level of support for the Swedish Democrats, who only entered parliament at the last election in 2010, presents the grim prospect of the anti-immigration party holding the balance of power.

Having fallen short of an overall majority (by 15 seats), while refusing to work with the far-right, the centre-left is danger of legislative gridlock. As outgoing finance minister Anders Borg said: “It is clear that from a broader perspective that this is difficult for Sweden. We go from having one of Europe’s strongest governments to having a weak government power with considerable uncertainty about economic policy.” The Feminist Initiative Party split the left-wing vote by winning 3 per cent (up from just 0.4 per cent in 2010), but fell short of the 4 per cent required for parliamentary representation. Their rise in support, combined with the far-right insurgency, means that despite finishing first, the Social Democrats only increased their vote share by 0.4 per cent.

From a UK perspective, the result is damaging for David Cameron in two respects. First, he has lost one of his closest EU allies in the form of Reinfeldt (part of his “Northern Alliance“), further tilting the odds against a successful renegotiation if he is still prime minister after next May. Second, the rejection of the Moderates, whose vote fell by 7 per cent, marks a backlash against welfare cuts and privatisation after a series of free school failures and care home scandals (policies emulated by the coalition). The ideological wind is no longer blowing the free market right’s way in the Nordics.

One final point worth noting, as Rob Ford suggests, is that the result looks eerily like a preview of the British election in May 2015: an unpopular centre-right government is expelled as voters protest against privatisation; a weak centre-left takes power without a majority; and the populist right (Ukip) surges into third place.

Like France-Inter I am principally struck by the rise of rabid right-wing populism in Germany and Sweden. 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 15, 2014 at 12:50 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Come now. Salmond is a moderate bourgeois politician. Lumping all of these parties together is amalgam politics.

    Jim Monaghan

    September 15, 2014 at 2:48 pm

  2. It is, as mentioned, from the Spectator.

    But there is a general point that has the ring of truth, and extends to the MoVimento Cinque Stelle and the Lega Nord onwards, that these parties mobilise on the basis of a revolt against the ‘elite’.

    Of course given Salmond’s willingness to doff his cap to Donald Trump and the like he is also in cahoots with the wealthy.

    Andrew Coates

    September 15, 2014 at 4:10 pm

  3. Analyses show that the party which lost the most votes to the AfD was Die Linke, in both Thüringen and in Brandenburg, with the SPD in 2nd place and the CDU 3rd on that front. The AfD went on a lot about crime, “internal security” and “how safe the GDR was”.

    The thing is with the AfD, it says one thing in one place (GDR nostalgia in Brandenburg, where Die Linke are strong, anti-bank ‘populism’ from the left in Berlin and Hamburg) and something else elsewhere (e.g. it copies 1:1 NPD anti-immigrant slogans in Mecklenburg, where the far right/NPD were/are strong).

    And it’s the “anti-bank populism” and “anti-Euro”-ness in Berlin and Hamburg and Munich and Frankfurt which gets portrayed in the national media, while the racist/dodgy almost-far-rightness which is only present in the provinces, where the politicians and journalists from the national media never go and aren’t very interested in.

    "daggi"

    September 17, 2014 at 9:27 pm

  4. Thanks Daggi.

    I also saw a number of articles saying that AfD played a pro-Putin side which attracted Die Linke voters.

    This has become an issue within the party,

    Putin spaltet die AfD Für oder gegen Russland? In der Partei ist ein Streit entbrannt, der die Führung entzweit.

    That after the Crimea referendum, “Die Mitglieder blieben Putin treu. Auf ihrem Parteitag in Erfurt im März beschlossen sie, es sei “von größter Bedeutung”, keine Sanktionen gegen Russland zu verhängen. Sie machten Gaulands Russlandkurs zur offiziellen Parteilinie.”

    http://www.zeit.de/2014/36/bernd-lucke-afd-putin-spaltung

    Andrew Coates

    September 18, 2014 at 3:47 pm

  5. I think the Putin-AfD-row was a bit of a sideshow; and anyway, most people in Germany seem to like Putin anyway (not just ex-SED diehards). Incidentally, it seems the Pirates are finished.

    daggi

    September 19, 2014 at 11:31 pm

  6. You might find this interesting, especially, despite its right-wing overtones, because the AfD has basically buried the (neo)Liberal FDP…http://www.faz.net/aktuell/wirtschaft/wirtschaftspolitik/afd-ist-kaum-noch-liberal-sondern-standortorientiert-13164555.html

    “Bei der Landtagswahl in Thüringen war das wichtigste Motiv, warum Wähler der AfD ihre Stimme gaben, die Kompetenz der Partei zum Thema „Soziale Gerechtigkeit“. Es folgten Kriminalitätsbekämpfung, Ausländer- und Familienpolitik, dann erst der Bereich Finanzen. ”

    “In the regional elections in Thüringen the most important reason why voters gave their cross to the AfD was because of ‘social justice’. Followed by crime, policies on foreigners and families, and only then economics/finances”.

    daggi

    September 21, 2014 at 1:41 pm


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