On the night of September 9th, Sweden joined many other European countries, such as Germany, France, Austria, and Italy, in a surge of support for the far right.  The Social Democrats were able to maintain their control in the Swedish Riksdag or Parliament. However, the far right anti-immigrant party, the Swedish Democrats, made it an incredibly close race.  Social democracy, once a cornerstone of European ideology, is losing traction across the continent.  Fear and a lack of faith in government are at the root of this decline. Sweden must work to restore faith in their political system if they wish to regain their political stability.  

With an unprecedented distribution of new seats in the Riksdag, the future of the government and of political stability in Sweden is uncertain. The new Riksdag will have the opportunity to replace current Prime Minister, Social Democrat Stefan Löfven, and party leaders have convened to discuss who to nominate in his place.  Swedes have had a difficult time believing in their government with no consistent government to depend on.  

The Social Democrats have not suffered such poor election results for over a century.  Along with other major upsets such as in France and Italy, Sweden’s recent election indicates the rise of far right nationalism but more importantly, the fall of social democracy.  As Johan Hassel, a Social Democrat politician, told The Atlantic, Sweden is “not isolated from the trend which is going through Western democracies.”  

The typical Social Democratic platform in Sweden is based upon its celebrated social welfare system.  As a result, union workers composed the base of the Social Democrats. Currently however, many union workers are moving away from the Social Democrats and towards the far right.  European democracies have turned a blind eye to the fact that a considerable number of people, especially workers, have lost faith in government.

On the campaign trail earlier this year, PM Löfven noted that after 2008, people began to view government differently.  After the housing market crash, people were left feeling “alone” because “the government at that time did not take responsibility,” said PM Löfven.  The far right’s ideology founded on fear has attracted such individuals.

In turbulent times such as the 2008 Great Recession or the current migrant crisis in Europe, voters must feel that their government is supporting them.  All modern democracies derive their power and, most of the time, their agenda, from the people. When they do not trust their government, it is challenging for the government to act in their best interest.  Many Americans lost faith in government as well, and have thus begun to fear change in sectors such as immigration, healthcare, and education.

In 2016, President Donald Trump used people’s distrust in government to his advantage.  He criticized the status quo and supported going back to an era when many felt secure. Distrust in government has led to the decline of many democratic values.  Just as in the United States, Swedish Social Democrats must begin rebuilding trust in government. While not undermining their globalist perspective, they must focus on bringing their politics back to the people.  At a time when many feel distant from their government, it is crucial for the government to be stable and productive. Faith in government is the single most important aspect of a successful democracy.