Sweden as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's socialist role model
The much maligned Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez might have been on to something, although possibly inadvertently, in her interview January 6, 2019 with Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes. During that interview, she said she wants to "model her socialist policies off of European countries." She qualified her statement, saying, "What we have in mind and what my policies most closely re-resemble are what we see in the U.K., in Norway, in Finland, in Sweden."
This past September, Sweden held its parliamentary elections, which determine the makeup of the legislative bodies on a scheduled four-year cycle. At the highest level, these elections determine the allocation of seats in the Riksdag, the national legislative body of Sweden (also known as the Kingdom of Sweden), whose political form of governance is known as a parliamentary representative democratic constitutional monarchy. Powers of the monarch are largely ceremonial; the most well known might be handing out the Nobel prizes.
That leaves the "representative democratic" component. What were the results of the latest exercise of the free democratic population's voting from September 2018? The perpetual Social Democratic Party received 28.4% of the total vote and lost 12 seats in the Parliament. The second-place Moderate Party was down to 19.8% and lost 14 seats. Third place was the Sweden Democrats, up with 17.6% and a gain of 13 seats.
A naïve expectation of a such democratic election process in a democratic country would be that these three front leaders with a combined 65.8% of the vote would get together and form a governing coalition. The problem is that the third-place winner, the Swedish Democrat Party, has had its 1988 origins continue to be portrayed as anti-immigrant and neo-Nazi. By the early 1990s, the Sweden Democrats had officially rejected both fascism and Nazism. They consider themselves social conservatives with a nationalistic foundation. Their party appealed to those Swedes appalled by the liberal immigration policies and subsequent social turmoil instituted by the Social Democrats.
These immigration policies had opened the gates to 163,000 asylum-seekers in 2015. Liberal financial support to these immigrants (primarily from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan) at the expense of Swedish retirees' own monthly pensions and access to health care, concerns over pressure on the welfare and housing system, a shortage of doctors and teachers, and a rise in crime have led to social unrest and have become election issues. Failure of the majority of the immigrants to find jobs and assimilate into Swedish society was evident by 2016, and Sweden began to offer cash incentives for immigrants to leave Sweden for their countries of origin.
Even so, the liberal ruling factions (Social Democrats-Green, Center Party, Liberals) appeared unwilling to the admit the failure and unpopularity of their immigration policies. To talk openly about it in public, or privately, was to risk being labeled a racist or Nazi.
The Swedish public finally got a chance to vote on these issues in September 2018, and the Sweden Democrats ran on a platform calling for a referendum on European Union membership, a freeze on migration, and a crackdown on crime. In its official platform, the party says its anti-migrant policies are driven by "love and confidence in our country."
What did winning third place in the general election get the Sweden Democrats party? They were frozen out of the next step in forming a functioning government. All the other political parties refused to acknowledge their win and refused to work with them. Democratic Sweden, extolled by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, effectively disenfranchised 17.6% of the Swedish electorate; their votes did not count with the other parties. The ruling classes determined that such views had no place in Sweden. On the U.S. political landscape, our similar voters have been labeled the "deplorables" by the Democratic Party leadership.
Now, in mid-January, after four months of post-election wrangling, Sweden's Social Democrat leader, Stefan Lofven, has forged a potential deal with two centrist parties to form a government as part of an effort to deny influence to the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has defined (unwittingly?) her own socialist yearnings by offering a modern Swedish political model – one in which "love and confidence in [our] country" are grounds for ostracism and political isolation.