Thursday, February 17, 2011

The crisis of Social Democracy in Scandinavia

The Swedish Social Democrats are currently in disarray. A party that alone held power virtually uninterrupted for most of the 20th century currently only has support of about 25-28% of voters.

I am not going to offer them advice how to recover, since I am their ideological opponent, and I myself would never trust that advice from my ideological opponents to be in my best interest.

Most of the explanations offered for the meltdown relies on uniquely Swedish events and recent phenomenon. However the exact same thing happened in Denmark and Norway. Moreover, the Swedish Social Democrats have been slowly declining for decades, which was obscured by a couple of odd victories following the 1990s financial crisis. So most likely the explanation for the decline has a systematic component and is common to all three Scandinavian countries.

One explanation is reduced class-consciousness among the working class, who are also becoming a smaller share of the population. There is not much the Labour parties can do about this.

Another explanation is resistance of working class voters to immigration. The Scandinavian working class have been hit hardest by the adverse impact of non-western immigration.

* First, working class neighborhoods have turned into ghettos, forcing them to either move out or live with high crime, troubled schools and other negative social externalities.

* Second, unskilled immigrants put downward pressure on wages and employment.

* Third, immigration costs billions of dollars, which means less money over to welfare state services.

* Lastly, the immigrants don't have Lutheran work ethics and strong social pressure not to abuse the welfare state like the Scandinavians. Many non-western immigrants take full advantage of all the generous benefits, and some cheat if they can. This behavior has forced the Scandinavians to make social insurance payments less generous for everybody, and to introduce harder controls. The unintended consequence is that a 55 year old Swedish working class women with health problems cannot get early retirement as easily as she could in 1985, because the system has become less trusting to everyone due to abuse.

Working class voters are also less likely to benefit from immigration in the form of cheaper services (working class Scandinavians cannot afford maids), and unlike the middle class they don't even pretend to enjoy Iraqi and Albanian cultural expressions.

Instead of reforming policies, the reaction of the Social Democrats to failed integration has been to ratcheted up pro-immigration propaganda. As a consequence, many of the working class feel abandoned by the Social Democrats, and are in turn abandoning them in favor of populist anti-immigration parties.

These graphs illustrate the development since the start of the Era of Social Democratic Dominance in 1936.

In Denmark the Social Democrats are expected to make a come-back in the next election. This lends support to my hypothesis, since the Danish Social Democrats have gone the furthest in giving up on multiculturalism and mass-immigration.

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