The Corner

Moving the Goalposts

How are Sweden’s establishment parties coming to terms with the arrival of that awkward new party, Sweden Democrats, into the country’s parliament? If this report in The Local turns out to be correct (and it seems to be), not so well: 

Members of several Swedish political parties are calling for a restructuring of the Riksdag [the Swedish parliament] to minimize the influence of the far-right Sweden Democrats. The parties are investigating whether it is possible to shift the make-up of parliamentary committees to reduce the sway of the far-right, anti-immigrant party which was voted into parliament for the first time at the weekend’s general elections, several Swedish dailies reported. Both Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s Moderate [center-right] Party and the main opposition Social Democrats are reportedly involved. The far-right party won 5.7 percent of the vote and 20 seats in parliament, according to an initial count. As things stand, that would be enough for it to automatically have a representative on parliamentary committees, which today count 17 members each. 

To get this into some sort of proportion, the Riksdag has 349 MPs, 329 of whom are not Sweden Democrats.

Whatever one might think of the election results and whatever one might think of Sweden Democrats, the establishment parties seem to be behaving in a way that may not only turn out to be counterproductive, but also says little that’s good about their understanding of how a democracy is meant to work. They need to win the debate — not change the rules.

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