In Sweden this weekend, the anti-immigrant, euro-skeptic Sweden Democrats made major gains. Neither of the larger center-left or center-right coalitions were able to break the 50% threshold in parliament, and the Sweden Democrats could have influence in the days ahead. Bloomberg reports:
Europe’s political outsiders chalked up another milestone in the Swedish election as a rise in support for nationalists showed the battle lines being drawn right across the continent.
While the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats fell short of some pollsters’ projection, they still posted the biggest gains in Sunday’s vote — in a country once seen as a bastion of liberalism. The uprising sweeping through Europe leaves the establishment in Stockholm hamstrung, just as it has done in Italy, the U.K., Poland and elsewhere. It shows little sign of abating.
“It’s populist, it’s insurgent, it’s a challenge to the status quo,” said Ian Lesser, senior director for foreign policy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a think tank based in Brussels. “It will remain a significant political force.”
Where once elections were fought between center-right and left, the pendulum swinging gently for decades between different degrees of state intervention and economic liberalism, now they pitch the established order against the disrupters. Their advances threaten some of the fundamental achievements of the 61-year European experiment.
The next upheaval could come in May, when the European Union holds elections to its parliament in all member states. With the balance of power in the bloc at stake, that vote could change the political landscape more dramatically than any since the Cold War.
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