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Cas Mudde talks about right-wing and right-wing radicalism

They were not drawn in the right direction in immigration policy

Updated 07:37 | Posted at 05:00

This is a cultural article It is part of Aftonbladet’s Opinion Journalism.

Cas Mudd writes, the Swedish Social Democrats' right turn on the issue of immigration discourages potential and former voters, who choose to vote for more progressive parties instead.
Cas Mudd writes, the Swedish Social Democrats’ right turn on the issue of immigration discourages potential and former voters, who choose to vote for more progressive parties instead.

in last year’s elections The radical right-wing Sweden Democrats (SD) became the largest right-wing party, which shocked many in Sweden and abroad. However, the election results confirmed an old truth: When an election revolves around a party and their issues, that party, no matter what happens, will be successful. And so the SD also became the big winner in an election that was all about “immigrant crime” and the already abandoned principle of distance from the Sweden Democrats.

The then ruling party, the Social Democrats (S), tried to prevent a further rise of the SD by moving more and more to the right on the issue of immigration. Nativism is a position that unites nationalism and xenophobia, and indeed Magdalena Anderson The first speech pushed party leaders in this direction. During the election campaign, she raised the tone even more, among other things by saying she didn’t want any Chinatowns or Somali towns in Sweden.

And although the Social Democrats achieved second place in the elections to the SD and remained by far the largest party in the Riksdag, they were forced into opposition. A right-wing coalition government, officially supported by the far right for the first time, came to power. In opposition, Anderson immediately supported the new government’s tough immigration legislation and even claimed that the real “paradigm shift” in immigration policy occurred thanks to the Social Democrats, not the Right. Unfortunately, the adoption of national ideas was neither new nor particularly successful in Europe.

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European Social Democratic Parties For decades, I have tried to stem the rise and decline of the far right by supporting anti-immigration policies. Already in 1991 he was introduced Edith CressonFrance’s first and only female prime minister, she introduced strict immigration laws in hopes of reining in the far-right National Front and bolstering her Socialist Party.

Thirty years later, the Socialist Party had become irrelevant in French politics and the National Council (NR), successor to the National Front, topped opinion polls again. Although the French case is extreme, there are many other examples of failed “light-nationalism” strategies on the left, especially in Austria, Flanders, Germany, and the Netherlands.

More importantly, these strategies discourage potential and former voters who then choose to vote for progressive parties instead.

This is not very surprising. Despite the quasi-religious belief among social democratic party elites that the rise of radical right-wing parties is the main cause of their parties’ shrinking, support for this is weak in research. in the report”Abandoned by the working class? The crisis of democratic socialism and the successes of the radical right“, like Tarik Abou-chadiAnd Reto Metenegger Published two years ago, and now in Swedish, we show that there are virtually no claims and assumptions about this “common narrative” supported by facts — at least not in the 10 Western European countries we studied, including Denmark and Sweden.

Firstly It is an assumption (often implied) in this narrative, also prevalent in the media, that the working class is made up of white men with authoritarian attitudes and nativism. But in fact, a large and (rapidly) growing percentage of working class women have an immigrant background. In addition, a large portion of the working class holds progressive positions on issues such as LGBT rights and immigration.

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Secondly, it is not true that the parties of the Radical Right are the new home of the former Social Democratic electorate, which means that they should also not be described as the new workers’ parties. Only a minority of the working class in Western Europe supports the radical right – in 2022 the SD party won 28.8% of the working class vote (three percent less than the S). Moreover, a minority of these far-right voters had previously supported social democratic parties – a report by the Institute for Future Studies (2019) found that less than a quarter of SD voters came from social democrats.

Thirdly, the social democratic parties did not lose their constituents to the radical right. Data from various sources and countries in Western Europe show that only a minority of former Social Democratic voters went to parties of the Radical Right. The Social Democratic parties mainly lost their voters to the Green parties and the traditional right. Before the 2018 parliamentary elections, only seven percent of those sympathetic to the AKP were their second choice, which is comparable to 24 percent who favored centre-right coalition parties and 59 percent for other “red-green” parties.

Our study shows “National-left” strategies, in which social democratic parties swing to the right in the cultural dimension (particularly immigration) in order to compete with radical right-wing parties, are also very unpopular within voters of social democratic parties.

More importantly, these strategies discourage potential and former voters who then choose to vote for progressive parties instead. Likewise, the centrist strategy, in which social democratic parties take central positions in the economic and cultural dimensions, also appears to be a poor electoral tactic, as it blurs the ideological image of social democratic parties.

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But how is it What about Denmark? It is true that the Danish Social Democrats had moderate success with an unabashedly left-wing nationalist trajectory, which had already begun in mit fredericksens predecessor, Hailee Thorning-Schmidt. However, the success is not great in terms of voter support. The party has not grown much in size since its embrace of the immigrants, but it has nonetheless been able to hand out prime ministers to a wide range of coalitions.

And although the radical right-wing Dansk Folkeparti party was marginalized, overall support for far-right parties was higher in 2022 than in all but one previous election. Not to mention the complete normalization of far-right actors and ideas in Danish politics and social life.

at the end of the presentations Research from across Western Europe found that a combination of the “old left strategy”, in which social democratic parties move left in the economic dimension, and “new left strategy”, in which they move left in the cultural dimension has the highest level of support among potential social democratic voters. Research shows that these groups of voters favor these strategies over nationalist, centrist and left-wing platforms. Therefore, rather than blindly following the short-term “Danish model”, social democratic parties, including the Swedish party, should combine the old and new left strategies. It is the most promising way to move forward at the electoral level, but also to build society itself.

Cas Mudde is one of the world’s leading researchers on political extremism and populism in Europe and the USA, working at the University of Georgia, USA. Tonight, June 14th, he’s speaking to Karin Peterson at Kulturhuset in Stockholm.
Translation: Karen Peterson