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.”
Germany and Sweden called for measures to reduce immigration from the Middle East and North Africa into Europe on Wednesday days after the two reimposed border controls.
Morgan Johansson, the Swedish migration minister, urged other European Union countries to help “slow the highway that has now been introduced right through Europe via Greece, the Balkans, Austria, Germany and then up to the northern countries.”
Johansson said some 115,000 people have applied for asylum in his country in the last four months alone.
Last year, Sweden registered 160,000 asylum seekers, the highest per-capita ratio in the EU.
Speaking alongside Johansson in Brussels, Ole Schröder, a lawmaker for Germany’s ruling conservative party, said, “Our problem at the moment in Europe is that we do not have the functional border control system, especially at the Greek-Turkey border.”
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.
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.
Exit polls showed Denmark’s left- and right-wing blocs tied on Thursday night and suggested that deputies from the Faroe Islands and Greenland could be kingmakers in the Nordic country’s next parliament.
The poll, shown on TV2, gave Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s coalition 87 seats against 88 for the right-wing opposition.
Such an outcome would hand the balance of power in Denmark’s 179-seat unicameral Folketing to the four representatives of the autonomous Faroe Islands and Greenland. The latter have traditionally aligned with the left while the Faroese tend to split their two seats between the blocs. Read more “Islanders Kingmakers in Danish Parliament”