by Daniel Pipes
In the long term, however, things look good for SD, which will likely gain from this undemocratic sleight of hand. Swedes, long accustomed to democracy, do not appreciate a backroom arrangement that almost surely nullifies their votes in 2018. They don't like its bullying quality. Nor do they take well to removing a highly controversial issue from consideration.
Woe to anyone in Sweden who dissents from the orthodox view that welcoming large numbers of indigent peoples from such countries as Iraq, Syria, and Somalia is anything but a fine and noble idea. Even to argue that permitting about one percent of the existing population to emigrate annually from an alien civilization renders one politically, socially, and even legally beyond the pale. (I know a journalist threatened with arrest for mild dissent on this issue.) The assertion that there exists a Swedish culture worth preserving meets with puzzlement.
And yet, the realities of immigration are apparent for all to see: welfare dependency, violent bigotry against Christians and Jews, and a wide range of social pathologies from unemployment to politically motivated rape. Accordingly, ever-increasing numbers of Swedes find themselves -- despite known hazards -- opting out of the consensus and worrying about their country's cultural suicide.
The taboo on such attitudes means that political parties, with only one exception, staunchly support continued immigration. Only the Sweden Democrats (SD) offer an alternative: real efforts to integrate existing immigrants and a 90 percent decrease in future immigration. Despite an unsavory neofascist past (not something unique to it, by the way), SD has become increasingly respectable and has been rewarded with electoral success, doubling its parliamentary vote from 3 percent in 2006, to 6 percent in 2010, to 13 percent in 2014. All the Swedes with whom I spoke on a recent visit expect the SD vote to grow further, something recent polls confirm.
If a party or bloc of parties held a large majority in Sweden's unicameral parliament, SD would be virtually irrelevant. But the Riksdag's two blocs are almost equally balanced. Three left-wing parties control 159 of 349 seats, while the "right-wing" (from an American perspective, it is hardly conservative) Alliance for Sweden, consisting of four parties, has 141 seats. This means that SD, with 49 seats, holds the balance of power.
But SD is deemed anathema, so no party bargains with it to pass legislation, not even indirectly through the media. Both Left and "Right" seek to isolate and discredit it. Nevertheless, SD has played the role of kingmaker on certain crucial legislation, particularly the annual budget. In keeping with its policy to drive from power every government that refuses to reduce immigration, it brought down an Alliance for Sweden government in early 2014. Recent weeks saw a repeat of this scenario, when SD joined the Alliance in opposing the leftist budget, forcing the government to call for elections in March 2015.
But then something remarkable occurred: The two major blocs compromised not only on the current budget, but also on future budgets and power-sharing all the way to 2022. The left and "right" alliances worked out trade-offs that would obviate the need for elections in March, allowing the Left to rule until 2018, with the "Right" possibly taking over from 2018 until 2022. Not only does this political cartel deprive SD of its pivotal role but, short of winning a majority of parliamentary seats in 2018, it has no meaningful legislative role for the next eight years, during which time the immigration issue is off the table.
This is nothing short of astonishing: To stifle debate over the country's most contentious issue, 86 percent of the parliament joined forces to marginalize the 14 percent that disagrees. The two major blocs diluted their already tepid differences to exclude the insurgent, populist party. Mattias Karlsson, the acting SD leader accurately notes that with this deal, his party has become the only real opposition.
In the long term, however, things look good for SD, which will likely gain from this undemocratic sleight of hand. Swedes, long accustomed to democracy, do not appreciate a backroom arrangement that almost surely nullifies their votes in 2018. They don't like its bullying quality. Nor do they take well to removing a highly controversial issue from consideration. And when the time comes to "throw the bums out," as always it does, the Sweden Democrats will offer the only alternative to the tired, fractious coalition that will have been in power for eight long years -- during which time immigration problems will alarm yet more voters.
In other words, this blatant act of suppression is spurring the very debate it is intended to quash. Before too long, the supreme issue of national suicide might actually be discussed.
Daniel Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum.
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