The rise of the far-right Sweden Democrats proves that isolating nativists doesn’t work.
Support for the Sweden Democrats has hovered north of 20 percent since 2015, up from the 13 percent they got in the election a year earlier. They could place second in the election this year, behind the ruling Social Democrats but ahead of the center-right Moderate Party.
Sweden’s mainstream parties have deliberately ignored the far right and most of them share pro-immigration views, making the Sweden Democrats the only recourse for voters who feel their country — the most welcoming to refugees in Europe — has done its part.
With 20 percent of the vote, the Sweden Democrats could block a traditional left- or right-wing government. They already forced Prime Minister Stefan Löfven into an awkward pact with the center-right in the outgoing parliament, reinforcing the impression that the entire political establishment has ganged up on the populists. Read more
Far-Right League Gains Most from Governing in Italy
Italy’s far-right League is benefiting the most from the government deal it struck with the populist Five Star Movement earlier this month.
In municipal elections on Sunday, the League captured the former left-wing strongholds of Massa, Pisa and Siena in the region of Tuscany.
Nationally, the League is tied with the Five Star Movement in the polls. Both get 27-29 percent support. In the last election, the Five Stars got 33 percent support against 17 percent for the League. Read more
Michael Meyer-Resende of Democracy Reporting International argues for Carnegie Europe that applying the term “illiberal democracy” or “majoritarianism” to the politics of Hungary and Poland is a misnomer. The ruling parties there are not undermining democracy — by taking control of the (state) media, stacking the courts and rewriting election laws — for the sake of the majority, but rather to maintain their own power. Read more
Middle-Aged Men More Right-Wing, Iran Hawk Pompeo Sworn In
Lyman Stone writes in The American Interest that in both Germany and the United States (and I imagine in other Western democracies too, but I only know for sure about the Netherlands), men are more likely to vote for the far right than women. Middle-aged men in particular.
Stone volunteers various explanations:
Changes in the global economy have systematically disfavored historically male-dominated industries.
Men are more likely to take a protective or defensive view of nationhood.
Men are pulled toward more radical politics of many varieties and just happen to be ticked off at their former political home.
Stone also finds that support for Germany’s Alternative was lower in those parts of the former East Germany that were Prussian before communism and highest in Saxony, a state with a long history of radical politics.
“Radicalism, the appeal of revolutionary protest politics, is less about coherent policy platforms,” he argues, “and more about the appeal of mob, tribe and movement.” Read more
The votes for Brexit, European populism and Donald Trump weren’t working-class revolts.
Ta-Nehisi Coates and Adam Serwer have argued that mostly-white elites are drawn to the “economic anxiety” thesis because it absolves them of responsibility for more intractable problems, like racism, xenophobia and self-delusions about both.
If nativists are motivated by stagnating wages, then there are policy solutions for bringing them back into the mainstream.
But what if their grievances aren’t so concrete? Read more