December 6, 2019 - 10:46am

The Swedish Moderate party have dropped their ban on working with the far-right Swedish Democrats, and have already met them to discuss co-operation on immigration, law and order and energy policy.

Finally! The situation in Sweden recently, where a successful political party that represents more than 20% of votersā€™ views has been frozen out of discussions with other parties because their views were deemed deplorable, has been obviously counter-productive. It is literally a core part of every populistā€™s appeal that the ā€˜establishmentā€™ is conspiring to keep them outside the room ā€” in this case it was true.

The Sweden Democrats party may have originally grown out of fascist and white nationalist movements but they are not that any more, and the more included they are the less scary they will become. Swedish campaigner Siavosh Derakhti told us in a recent interview how in fact they have had a huge political effect already: “all the parties are actually speaking like they are Sweden Democrats,” he said.

You only need to look at Italy, where Matteo Salviniā€™s League party has been boosted by being ejected from government, to see how this works. The bestĀ  ā€” perhaps the only ā€” way for populist movements that are born out of anger to mature into constructive parts of the political discussion is to allow them a seat at the table.

As David Goodhart wrote on these pages:

The general direction of travel is towards less extreme views with experience of office tempering the views of leaders and most activists: consider the Freedom party in Austria and the Peopleā€™s party in Denmark. Marine Le Penā€™s National Rally has gradually moved away from support for France leaving the EU and not just because of Brexit.

The Italian populist coalition has also just provided aĀ good recent example of this domestication. Both the 5 Star Movement and Lega Nord were seduced by the anti-MMR vaccine cult and had promised to abolish a lawĀ banningĀ children fromĀ attending school unless they had received jabs against 10 diseases. But when the 5 Star education minister was faced with an outbreak of measles in schoolsĀ the party abruptly dropped its opposition to vaccinationĀ and in effect adopted the policy it had previously repudiated.

- David Goodhart

Letā€™s hope that it leads to a more productive politics in Sweden.


Freddie Sayers is the Editor-in-Chief & CEO of UnHerd. He was previously Editor-in-Chief of YouGov, and founder of PoliticsHome.

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