Photo: Maja Suslin / TT
The man is supposed to be the leader of a country, a statesman with dignity and character. Instead, he acts like a surly kid. And now that surly kid has begun throwing a tantrum. But let’s back up a little in time first.
Tradition dictates that a prime minister-to-be is asked by the parliament president if he is willing and able to form a government and produce a budget. Löfvén assured the parliament and the people that he was. Löfvén failed miserably on both counts. He also baffled his own voters by rapidly abandoning pretty much all his campaign promises, and instead enforced a series of left-leaning changes that very few supported even in his own party.
Nationalist party SD made it clear they were willing to negotiate, and wrote an open letter to Löfvén the week before the budget vote that they’d support him if he would just cut inflow of asylum seekers by half. Not a very tough demand, seeing how that would put things back to almost exactly the level of the LAST Socialdemocrat PM, Göran Persson. And especially when finance minister Magdalena Andersson had made a big deal about Sweden’s coffers being empty. Löfvén dismissed the offer with a contemptful scoff and refused to even meet with SD.
As the budget defeat drew near, he repeatedly swore — up to the very morning of the budget vote — that he would resign if the budget didn’t pass. It didn’t. But Löfvén didn’t resign. Instead, he issued a snap election to the cost of some 250 million SEK that will probably not change the political gridlock one iota.
He immediately started blaming the mess on the conservative opposition block, the Alliance, for failing to support his leftist budget. Why he thinks they have an obligation to vote for heavy tax hikes, increased welfare and less personal freedom that runs contrary to the wishes of their voters is unclear.
This approach didn’t play very well. While voter confidence has been deteriorating steadily over the past few months, the bottom really fell out when the snap election was announced. According to the latest Ipsos survey, only 2% of the voters want to see the current red-green coalition in government.
So, time to point the finger at someone else, because lord knows there’s nothing wrong with Löfvén’s eminent politics. No need to change anything there, so it’s obviously someone else’s fault. And that someone is: SD.
“SD is a neofascist single-issue party that doesn’t respect people’s differences or the democratic institutions of Sweden!”
That direct quote pretty much sums up the dear PMs new recipe for swaying the voters back. This is beyond stupid for many reasons.
For starters, what is fascism? It’s a system with a super-strong state that controls most aspects of the citizens’ lives. Kind of the direction how Löfvéns party has been pulling historically. Let’s not forget it was S that was trying hard to ban satellite dishes, since it offered citizens other viewpoints than the state-controlled media. And Löfvén has presented several changes to reduce the choices for regular Swedes, most notably the ability to choose your doctor. SD has made no such attempts to decrease personal freedom. And the fascist tendencies are seen, where..?
Secondly, SD has long severed the ties to its questionable roots and has become the gathering spot for social conservatives of all stripes. Every fourth SD voter and many local SD politicians have immigrant roots themselves. Does it seem likely that, for example, Malmö SD politician Nima Gholam Ali Pour would be a closet nazi? Or remain active in a party working to relegate him and his family to second class citizens?
Racist against himself?
Thirdly, the approach of ignoring the factual issues and instead bellowing about racism hasn’t worked that well in the past. Media and the other politicians did that for 4 years, which led to SD more than doubling it’s mandate, from 5,7% to 12,9%. But now Löfvén believes that more of the same is the cunning campaign strategy that will win back the voters lost to SD in the regular september election. He may be overestimating the appeal of returning to someone barking nonsense about what a terrible person you are.
Finally, the pointing finger and trying to blame others for your own incompetence is not impressive anywhere. A carpenter that blames his shoddy work on the hammer being bad is pathetic, but a prime minister doing it has effectively disqualified himself then and there.
If a car salesman tries to sell me a car by badmouthing the competition, I excuse myself and go to the car dealer next door. Politics work the same way. I doubt I’m alone in this reaction, because that means your products (cars/policies) are so lousy they can’t stand on their own merits, but your only hope is to convince the buyer that the competitors’ product is even worse.
Thanks, but no thanks. No sale.
Edit: According to the latest Yougov survey, SD has now climbed to an all-time-high of 17,7%. Seems Löfvéns crusade against the evil fascists is off to a running start.