[Vision2020] Swedish Politics: Left, Center-Right, and Racial Right

Nicholas Gier ngier006 at gmail.com
Sat Oct 6 13:30:46 PDT 2018

Greetings Visionaries:
For those who do not take the Daily News, this is a longer version of my
column from last week.The full version is attached. It contains a
correction: the center-right government also had a term in 1991-94.  Still
no word about the formation of the new government.
The rise of the racial right is a concern not only here but also in Europe.

*Swedish Politics: Left, Center-Right, and Racial Right*

*Sweden is the most successful society the world has ever known.*

*—The Guardian* (10/25/05)

In 1976, after 44 years of rule, Sweden’s Social Democrats lost to a
coalition of moderates and conservatives. Under the leadership of Prime
Minister Olaf Palme, a leading critic of the Vietnam War, the Social
Democrats returned to power in 1982 and governed until the present, except
for center-right stints in 1991-94 and 2006-2014.

Opposition leaders want to take credit for Sweden’s economic and social
success, but most of the reduction of public spending—from 67 percent of
Gross Domestic Product in 1993 to 49 percent in 2012—was accomplished by
the Social Democrats.

In 1983 the Social Democrats cut the marginal tax rate from 84 percent to
57 percent (40 percent for the U.S.), and just before their opponents came
to power in 2006, they eliminated the inheritance tax.

Even with much higher taxes and public spending compared to the U.S., the
Swedish economy still grew on average by 2.7 percent from 1993 to
2010.  Currently,
 under the Social Democrats, it increased to 3.1 percent in the last
quarter (4.1 previously), and for the year it is estimated to average 2.8
percent. The U.S. growth rate was 4.2 percent for the last quarter and an
estimated 2.9 percent for the year.

Sweden is now running an annual surplus of 1.1 percent, but the U.S. budget
deficit, primarily because of the GOP tax cuts, is now at 4.8 percent and
rising. As a result, our national debt is now at 104 percent of GDP, and
the Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will reach 152 percent if
no new revenue is found. (Greece stands at 170 percent.) Sweden brought its
debt from 70 percent of GDP in 1993 to 37 percent today.

The conservative Heritage Foundation now ranks Denmark and Sweden higher
than the U.S. on its Economic Freedom Index, and Sweden stands at 7th place
in economic competitiveness behind Switzerland, the U.S., Singapore, the
Netherlands, Germany, and Hong Kong. A full 90 percent of the Swedish
economy is still in private hands.

The standard conservative response to Sweden’s success is that the country
is less ethnically diverse. But Sweden’s population is now 19 percent
foreign born, whereas the U.S. percentage is 13. During the Iraq War,
Sweden admitted about 80,000 Iraqi refugees, 6,000 Christians among them.

Since the turn of the century, the Swedes have welcomed an average of
26,000 refugees per year, maxing out at 163,000 in 2015, more per capita
than Germany. In stark and embarrassing contrast, the Trump administration
just announced that it was placing a limit of 30,000 on all new refugees.

Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions are of course wrong in their constant fear
mongering about immigrant crime.  In Germany, the United Kingdom, and the
U.S., immigrants commit fewer crimes than native citizens.

Immigrant crime is higher in Sweden, but no more so than those of the same
socio-economic status. Nevertheless, incidences such as Kurdish gangs
setting cars aflame in four major cities in August, has stoked
anti-immigrant sentiment.

The far-right, anti-immigrant Swedish Democrats have capitalized on this
unrest and, they have risen in the polls—from 1.4 percent in 2002 to 17.5
percent in the election on September 9.  The Swedish Democrats do support
the welfare state, but they don’t want immigrants to benefit from it. Party
leaders have called them “parasites” and “shameless liars.”

The response from the governments in both Sweden and Denmark, through which
most refugees reach Sweden, has been dramatic. The once open borders
between Germany and Denmark, and the bridge between Denmark and Southern
Sweden, now have restrictions.

The Danish government now requires asylum seekers to pay for their own
subsistence, something the U.S. still does while they are being processed.
The Trump administration, however, is now proposing that immigrants who
take food stamps, Medicaid, and other forms of assistance may not obtain
green cards.

The September 9 election resulted in a hung parliament, with Social
Democrats, the Greens, and the Left Party winning 144 seats and the
center-right coalition garnering 143, not enough for either to form a
majority.  The Swedish Democrats now have 62 seats.

Denmark’s anti-immigrant People’s Party is a member of its center-right
government, but Sweden’s major parties have always rejected a formal
arrangement with the Swedish Democrats. Nonetheless, the center-right
parties were glad to have their votes to remove Social Democrat Stefan
Lofven as Prime Minister on September 25.

Sweden can expect many more weeks of political turmoil, and the likely
result is that the center right parties—Conservatives, Moderates, Liberals,
and Christian Democrats—will form an unstable minority government.

Nick Gier of Moscow taught philosophy at the University of Idaho for 31
years. Read more about the “Middle Way” between communism and capitalism at
www.nickgier.com/MiddleWay.pdf.  Email him at ngier006 at gmail.com.


A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they
shall never sit in.

-Greek proverb

“Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity.
Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance
from another. This immaturity is self- imposed when its cause lies not in
lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without
guidance from another. Sapere Aude! ‘Have courage to use your own
understand-ing!—that is the motto of enlightenment.

--Immanuel Kant
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