Sunday, September 26, 2010

“The Sweden Democrats Are Not the Problem”

Below is an interview with Cas Mudde that aired this afternoon on Swedish state media. Dr. Mudde is Dutch expert on right-wing parties, and he argues that the Sweden Democrats’ recent success was only to be expected.

According to The Geert Wilders enigma in OpenDemocracy:

23 Jun 2010… Cas Mudde is Nancy Schaenen scholar at The Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics and visiting associate professor at the department of political science of DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. Among his books is Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe (Cambridge University Press)

According to SVT (translated by LN):

The high-profile Dutch politician Geert Wilders is closer to mainstream centre-right politics in the Netherlands than his hardline rhetoric about Islam might suggest, says Cas Mudde.

The interview is in English. Many thanks to our Swedish correspondent LN for recording the audio, and to Vlad Tepes for making the video and subtitling it:

A full transcript is below the jump.


0:00 What I mean is that in most European countries the radical right came into parliament
0:04 in the late eighties or during the nineties.
0:07 So Sweden is about ten to twenty years later than most other countries
0:13 and I think there are a couple of explanations for that,
0:16 which are, most importantly, immigration came relatively late.
0:20 Instead of guest-workers that came in in France or in Germany,
0:27 most of the immigrants are more recent, came in in the 1990s only
0:32 and were refugees, so, in a sense, the issue of multiculturalism emerged later
0:36 in Sweden, and Sweden also has a long tradition
0:41 of a very strong Social Democratic party, which have been fairly paternalistic,
0:46 which has taken care of the working class much longer
0:50 than the Social Democratic parties in other countries.
0:53 Q: Right now in Sweden, the strategy of the main parties
0:57 is to block out the Swedish Democrats from all political influence.
1:00 How fruitful is that strategy?
1:03 Well, it is not necessarily very difficult,
1:08 but it’s probably not very fruitful.
1:11 And what it mostly means is that they focus predominantly
1:16 at getting the Sweden Democrats out of parliament again.
1:20 But even if that would work in four years,
1:23 that doesn’t necessarily mean that the problems are solved,
1:27 because the Sweden Democrats are not the problem.
1:30 The problems are those kind of issues that the voters of the Sweden Democrats
1:34 perceive as problems, and if you just marginalize the party,
1:40 often what you do is marginalize the problems that these parties address.
1:45 And, as a consequence, this kind of strategy that focuses too much
1:52 on just getting the Sweden Democrats out of parliament
1:55 is in the long run hardly successful.
1:58 Q: But many fear that addressing these issues will only increase
2:03 xenophobic opinions.
2:06 Well, again, one of the things that the — kind of thing,
2:11 is that the Sweden Democrats have created xenophobic opinion.
2:14 But they’re actually the result of already existing xenophobic opinions.
2:19 And they came into parliament because a lot of the voters think
2:25 that issues relating to immigration and multiculturalism have not been debated.
2:30 And by not talking about it, these feelings don’t go away.
2:35 So, when you talk about it — this might lead to an increase
2:40 in terms of, like, the xenophobia in the debate,
2:44 and maybe even increase in the short run the success of Sweden Democrats,
2:49 but at the same time it might also satisfy quite a lot of people
2:54 who feel that now their voice isn’t heard,
2:57 and who might already settle for a compromise on immigration,
3:01 rather than just the Sweden Democrats’ solution to it,
3:03 which is fairly radical.
3:06 Q: When parties like this enters parliament, would you say that
3:09 that changed the policy towards a direction more hostile
3:14 to what’s in immigration or integration?
3:16 I think overall the effect has been pretty minimal.
3:20 You have to see that in the last twenty years or so
3:24 virtually every individual country in Europe has tightened its immigration law.
3:29 And there is not a very strong relationship between the success of
3:34 radical right parties and the immigration law that came out.
3:38 Mostly, mainstream parties react much more to what other countries do
3:44 within the European Union than necessarily what the radical right party does.
3:48 So there is a chance that immigration policy will be tightened
3:53 in Sweden, but there is a fair chance that that would have happened anyway,
3:57 even if the Sweden Democrats wouldn’t come into parliament,
4:00 for the simple reason that Sweden probably has a little bit more liberal
4:04 immigration policy than most of its surrounding countries.


Steen said...

"that Sweden probably has a little bit more liberalimmigration policy than most of its surrounding countries."


spackle said...

At one point he states that the reason for the Sweden Democrats success is that there has been no debate on immigration. And that once people feel their voices are "being heard", he implies that some sort of compromise could be made (meaning nothing of any substance) and that the people would be satiated.

Yet another liberal fantasy. Like some sort of twisted marriage counseling session. All that is needed is for the elites to say "I hear what you are saying", give a pat on the head and all will be right with the world. Being "heard" just aint gonna cut it anymore.

Anne-Kit said...

spackle, I agree! "Being heard" and "having a debate" is all part of the liberal "narrative" that amounts to ... exactly nothing.

Australian conservative blogger Andrew Bolt has a great way with words. He calls our age "The Age of Seeming".

laine said...

Note how it never occurs to Dr. Mudde that an immigration policy encouraging immigrants from a non-assimilating culture to flow in large numbers at an unassimilable rate, rapidly changing the demographics of a society is EXTREMIST. No, he calls the proposal to cease this suicidal policy extremist.