Sweden’s Stefan Löfven is taking the fight to the far right. Politico reports that the prime minister and Social Democratic Party leader is implementing a hard line on border control, crime and defense.
With his tough stance, Löfven hopes to avoid the fate of sister parties elsewhere in Europe who have failed to convince voters that they are still relevant now that the welfare states they helped build are well-established.
Polls show the Swedish left down a few points. The nationalist Sweden Democrats have moved up.
Löfven’s party would still get nearly 30 percent support on its own and 40 percent in combination with its left-wing allies; a far cry from the dismal performance of center-left parties in France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
For Eastern Europe and the Baltic states in particular, a Donald Trump presidency could be disastrous. The Republican has created doubt about whether or not the United States would honor NATO’s collective defense clause, Article 5, under his leadership.
Social democratic parties in Europe should make permanent alliances with smaller parties to their left and right in order to keep their constituency united, argues a Dutch political scientist.
Joop van den Berg, formerly of Leiden University, writes that the traditional social democratic alliance, between workers and the intellectual middle class, is breaking down. The former are defecting to either populists on the far left (Die Linke in Germany, Podemos in Spain) or nationalists on the right (the Danish People’s Party, the Dutch Freedom Party). The latter are switching to Greens or centrist liberals in the middle.
Their economy is growing 4.5 percent this year and unemployment has fallen to its lowest level since the financial crisis yet Swedes are acting “as if everything is going in the wrong direction,” complains their prime minister, Stefan Löfven.
In an interview with the Financial Times, the Social Democrat insists that “all the numbers are going in the right direction, but the picture the public have is that the country is now going in the wrong direction.”
Sweden’s right-wing parties pulled out of a budget deal with the ruling Social Democrats on Friday, depriving Prime Minister Stefan Löfven of a majority and raising the specter of early elections.
Christian Democrat members, whose party is the smallest in the opposition Alliance, voted at a conference on Friday to abandon the pact with Löfven. The other conservative parties that most recently ruled Sweden from 2006 to 2014 followed suit this weekend.
In The Edge of the World, Michael Pye sets out to explain “how the North Sea made us who we are.” He at least succeeds in showing how, through the centuries, the lands around the North Sea were in constant communication with each other and influenced developments in law, science and trade, perhaps more than most historians assumed.
But he does so while tearing down a familiar narrative about the rise of capitalism in the region without volunteering an alternative interpretation.
Pye’s book is organized around themes: the invention of money, the writing of law, fashion, urbanization. The book as a whole covers centuries but most chapters deal with a much shorter time and dwell longer on the stories of individuals — whom we have to assume are representative of bigger trends — than they do on tying in events to produce something resembling a theory.
Britain won support from Finland and Sweden on Monday for its efforts to reform its relationship with the European Union. But there is also misgiving in the region that the United Kingdom’s push for a looser affiliation with the continent could lead to a two-speed Europe that sees non-euro countries relegated to second-class status.
Alexander Stubb, Finland’s finance minister, said Britain was justified in demanding further liberalization, especially in services, as well as restrictions on welfare benefits for migrant workers.
Deeper eurozone integration risks relegating non-euro countries like Sweden to the status of “second-class members of the European Union,” its finance minister, Magdalena Andersson, warned last week.
Writing in Stockholm’s Dagens Nyheter, Andersson warned against reduced influence for countries outside the eurozone if those countries that share the currency tighten their budget rules and pool economic governance.