Sosialdemokraterna og den borgerlige alliansen fremstår som både desperate og semitotalitære. Nå jobbes det på spreng for å enes om en avtale som sikrer at en mindretallsregjering kan styre uten flertall for statsbudsjettet. Dette for å slippe nyvalg i mars neste år, der Sverigedemokraterna nå ligger an til å få opp mot 20 prosent. Den humane supermakten spås bitende kuldegrader fra den andre siden av Atlanteren.
Sverige leder an. Europa vil følge etter. Derfor er det svenske eksemplet viktig for USA, skriver Weekly Standard. Sverige var selve symbolet på en mektig velferdsstat, og er nå den første europeiske velferdsstaten som blir bankerott. Standard feller en knusende dom over hele det europeiske kontinentets fremtid. ”The looser has to fall,” skriver avisen, noe som ikke minst skyldes masseinnvandringen. Sverige gis samme diagnose som Jimmi Åkesson, «nervøs utmattelse». Samtidig er dagens toppnyhet hos SVT denne formiddagen, at Stefan Löfven sitter på bakrommet med Alliansen for å komme frem til en avtale som parkerer Sverigedemokraterna på, ja nettopp, bakrommet. Det er så man får grøsninger. Politikerne legger opp til sosiale opptøyer og vold?
«The winner,” ABBA advised in 1980, “takes it all. The loser has to fall.” But not in Swedish politics, where proportional representation has created a smorgasbord of parties and has now contributed to a crisis of democracy.
Why should Americans care about Sweden, one of the many faraway countries of which we know little? Because where the Swedes go, Europe follows. Lightly burdened by war guilt, Sweden was the first European state to declare itself the moral monitor of the world. Sweden’sfolkhem, or “people’s home,” was the gold standard of welfare states; it was also the first to run out of money. In the ’70s, Sweden pioneered the anti-Zionism that has become the only coherent element in the EU’s foreign policy. Today Malmö, Sweden’s third-largest city, is becoming the first city in postwar Europe to expel its Jewish minority through mob violence. And last week, Swedish democracy broke down. The causes of the breakdown can be seen in every European state. As ever, Sweden leads the way.
Sweden has led the way in European immigration, and Muslim immigration in particular. Some 20 percent of Sweden’s 9.5 million people are immigrants or the children of immigrants: the highest figure in Europe. Most European states were until recently monocultural. They have trouble assimilating immigrants, especially rural Muslims who wish to keep their cultural and religious identity. Sweden has applied the noblest of ideals—shelter to the oppressed—with the narrowness of mind that can happen when you live in a small society on the quiet side of the Baltic. The state has failed to assimilate its immigrants. Ordinary Swedes, both indigenous and immigrant, have paid the social cost. In a May 2014 poll, 44 percent of respondents wanted the new government to reduce immigration.
Nigel Farage of UKIP likes to be photographed holding a frothing pint of bitter and a cigarette. Jimmie Åkesson of the Sweden Democrats looks like a ’50s rocker. He longs for the days when the welfare state was strong and society coherent. It turns out that plenty of Swedes feel the same. Last week, the comments sections of Swedish press websites abounded in conversions from both left and right. All said the same thing: Mass immigration has dissolved Sweden’s social cohesion and overburdened the welfare system. The established parties are too cowardly or corrupt to stop the rot. The Sweden Democrats are not; and so, holding his or her nose, the voter backed them.
Before this week’s budget vote, the Sweden Democrats had conditioned their participation in the Alliance on a 90 percent reduction in immigration. Löfven’s coalition, by contrast, recently announced its intent to accept 100,000 Iraqi refugees. The forthcoming election will be a referendum on immigration, and the related question of the EU. Like Britain, Sweden is an EU member that has retained its currency. It has not, though, retained control over its borders.
When the winner fails to “take it all,” the losers in modern Europe take their chances. Sweden’s New Right party has now played a decisive part in the politics of Europe’s quintessential Old Left state. On current form, the Sweden Democrats may play the kingmaker’s role after the March election. France’s National Front and Britain’s UKIP may play similarly prominent roles in their countries’ next elections.
If Sweden leads the way, Europe’s political future is grim: a governing class unwilling to acknowledge a systemic failure of democracy, a populist backlash against immigration and the EU superstate, and deep hostility between an aging indigenous population and a fertile immigrant one. This is bad for Sweden and bad for Europe. And a weak, introverted, and increasingly extremist Europe is bad for the United States, too.
The Swedes have one of the world’s highest life expectancies, but they have a higher percentage of people on sickness benefit than any other Western society. Jimmie Åkesson seems to be doing his bit to preserve this Swedish custom: He was too ill to take part in last week’s events. He is on the sick list, for “nervous exhaustion.” And so is Sweden.