It's about a nordic counter-movement.
Should I be worried?
In Europe, many people are concerned about right-wing shifts. Think of Poland or Hungary. It goes beyond these countries. Right-wing parties have gained increasing support in almost every European country. But this is not the whole story. For the first time in 62 years, all five Nordic countries are run by a left-wing prime minister at the same time.
What has happened?
For decades Scandinavia was a bastion for social democrats. That had changed since the turn of the millennium. But there has been a counter-movement for a number of years. Latest change: The triumph of Norway's Labour party at the general election last week. A brief overview.
Norway: The center-left opposition regained power this month after an unprecedented eight years of right-wing rule. The center-left parties won 100 seats against 68 for the center-right. This result brings to power Labour leader Jonas Gahr Store, a former foreign minister. The election was dominated by the future of the country's oil industry and inequality. Store stressed that he does not want to wind down Norway's oil industry prematurely - the biggest in western Europe. After the win, the Labour leader is preferring a coalition with the rural Centre party and the pro-environment Socialist Left.
Sweden: The last election took place in 2018. Social democrats held on to power but suffered their worst showing since 1908. It was the second coalition run by Stefan Löfven, consisting of the Social Democrats and the Green Party. With only 116 out of 349 seats, it was the smallest minority government in Swedish history. And it failed soon: In a vote of no-confidence held on 21 June 2021, Prime Minister Löfven had voted out of office but was returned to office by parliament in July when the leader of the biggest opposition party, the Moderates, failed to get enough backing to form a new government. In August, Löfven said that he would resign in November to give his successor a chance to improve the Social Democrats' standing in the polls with the next elections coming up in 2022. Among those tipped to take over are Finance minister Magdalena Andersson and Health Minister Lena Hallengren. A woman has never led Sweden.
Denmark: The center-left Mette Frederiksen has been Prime Minister since 2019. Her recipe for success: She made the Social Democrats more immigration-skeptical to neuter the threat from the populist Danish People's party. At the 2019 election, the Danish People's Party's vote share fell by 12.4 percentage points, over half of their supporters. The current government of the Social Democrats is stable due to their support by the Social Liberal Party, Socialist People's Party, and the Red-Green Alliance and informally supported by The Alternative.
Finland: The current cabinet, led by the Social Democrat Sanna Marin, was inaugurated in December 2019. It consists of five parties: Social Democratic Party, Centre Party, Green League, Left Alliance, and Swedish People's Party. The 35-year-old Marin, who oversees a Nordic nation of 5.5 million people ranked as the happiest globally, is known for advocating equality and fairness. Some days ago, just from a four-week summer holiday, she said in an interview that she wants to improve the lot of the workers. She wants to push for shorter hours for employees and better employment rules to stop work creeping into people's free time.
Iceland: Katrín Jakobsdóttir from the Left-Green Movement has been Prime Minister since November 2017. She is Iceland's second female prime minister and has been the chairperson of the Left-Green Movement since 2013. The party was founded in 1999 by Althing (Iceland's parliament) members who disapproved of the merger of left-wing political parties, which resulted in the formation of the Social Democratic Alliance. The Left-Green movement focuses on feminism and environmentalism as well as increased democracy and direct involvement of the people in the administration of the country. Jakobsdóttir leads a three-party coalition with the Independence Party and Progressive Party.
So the Social Democrats are back in power.
Well, the political landscape of Scandinavia is becoming more fragmented. Norway's parliament will have ten parties in it. It is not that social-democratic parties have grown stronger in recent years; instead, the left-wing parties have received more votes overall.
A harbinger for the rest of Europe?
We will see, as early as next weekend. That is when elections take place in Germany. The Social Democrat candidate Olaf Scholz is topping the polls with around 25 per cent. If that were the actual election result, it would be one of the worst results in the history of the Social Democrats in Germany - but still a victory.