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Forget everything you know about nice, liberal Sweden


The Swedish way of politics has often been put forward as a role model for other countries. Almost everyone has heard about the Swedish model of fair wealth redistribution, proper budget policies, a welfare state with good benefits, and a large public sector. They’ve also probably heard of how all of this has been achieved through mature bipartisanship, and a visionary embrace of reform.

But yesterday’s collapse of the newly elected government is just the latest sign that Sweden has started to transform into a less functional, more European-style country. After only three months of his party being in power, the Social Democrat Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has called a snap election to take place in March.

Snap elections aren’t uncommon in Europe, yet last time Sweden had one was in the 1950s. But the biggest surprise here isn’t that Sweden has changed, but that the outside world’s perception of the country has not. The government collapsed after the far-right extremists of the Sweden Democrats party voted against their proposed budget, to make a point about their liberal immigration policies (Sweden has already offered permanent residence to all Syrian refugees, and has one of the highest rates of asylum applications in Europe).

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Photo credit: Glyn Lowe Photoworks. / Foter / CC BY

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