Europe swings to the right on immigration

In the Swedish election held last Sunday, parties of the right – the far-right by some accounts – have made significant gains, and are in a position to form a government, defeating the incumbent Social Democrat government headed by Prime Minister Magdelena Andersson.

Will they close the Øresund Bridge?

Among the parties on the right the greatest gain has been by the Swedish Democrats, who have run on a strong anti-immigration policy. Deutsche Welle reports that the Swedish Democrats have tapped into the social mood of impatience with Sweden’s generous refugee policy. (4 minutes)

On the ABC Breakfast program Anders Sannerstedt of Lund University provides some history of the Swedish Democrats: although the party started as a far-right nationalist movement it has become more centrist over time, he suggests. (7 minutes) Deutsche Welle’s reporter suggests that although the Swedish Democrats are less enthusiastic about European unity than the governing Social Democrats, they will not seek to withdraw Sweden from the EU and will maintain Sweden’s support of Ukraine.

To provide some perspective on immigration as an issue, it should be noted that around 30 percent of Swedes have at least one parent born in another country. That compares with 48 percent in Australia and we may wonder what the problem is. Where Sweden differs from Australia is in its high intake of refugees, and the high representation—40 percent – by just two countries, Syria and Afghanistan, in that mix of immigrants.

Italy is having an election on September 25 and polls suggest that the far-right Brothers of Italy will take office, installing Giorgia Meloni as prime minister. On Late Night LiveWill Italy elect a neo-fascist party on September 25? – Ellen Fanning interviews John Hopper, The Economist correspondent for Italy and the Vatican about Brothers for Italy. It’s an intensely nationalist movement, with links to fascist movements in Spain, with historical links to Italian postwar fascist movements, and with views towards the rest of Europe generally in line with the hard-right regimes in Poland and Hungary. Immigration, particularly the movement of refugees crossing the Mediterranean from Africa, is a major concern in Italy. (17 minutes)

Although Sweden and Italy are a long way apart politically, both appear to be turning more nationalist and less European, and less inclined to bear the costs of maintaining sanctions against Putin’s Russia. Italy’s winter is more benign than Sweden’s, but as Hopper explains, electricity and gasoline prices are a major concern in Italy.

Why the Greens will form majority government in 2158

It’s a matter of simple mathematics. In 2004 the Greens won 7 percent of the vote and by 2022 their vote had risen to 12 percent. If they can keep their support rising by 5 percent every 18 years, they will get to 50 percent in 2158. Perhaps they could make it earlier if they could find a progressive, environmentally-minded coalition partner.

Political projections are fanciful, but in his Policy Post Martyn Goddard reports on what Bob Brown sees as an unstoppable trend for the Greens’ support to rise to the point that they could form government. That optimism is based not only on projection of voting trends but also on demographic trends – young people are strong Green supporters – and of the success of green parties in Europe: Could the Greens (one day) govern Australia?

Goddard does some thorough analysis of Bob Brown’s figures, and while he acknowledges the rise of environmental concerns as electoral issues, he dampens those forecasts with some realpolitik considerations, particularly about the ways parties are forced to make hard choices when they have to develop policies across the whole range of public concerns and not just environmental and certain “progressive” issues.