This is only the tip of the iceberg. Expect a shift to the hard right as Europe’s economic crisis continues and as the EU forces itself to consolidate into an even tighter political-economic union to save the Euro and/or United States of Europe.
Although it may be a different world, this phenomenon also applies in politics. Ten years ago, Europe was almost entirely dominated by social-democratic governments: with Tony, Gerhard and Göran [Blair in the UK, Schröder in Germany and Persson in Sweden] leading the way. Then something happened: a new player entered the market.
Last week, the Norwegian conservative party, Høyre, launched a new web domain [arbeidspartiet.no] “working party”, which is confusingly similar to the name of the Norwegian Labour Party [Arbeiderpartiet]. Over the last few months, Høyre’s leader Erna Solberg has taken to banging on about “human beings before billions”, while the party’s rising star Torbjørn Røe Isaksen has declared that Høyre no longer wants to deregulate the labour market and that it has nothing against trade unions.
All of this is designed to combat a perception of Høyre as a heartless club for rich people. The strategy is obviously outright copied from Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. So you want to copy the Swedes? say the Norwegian social democrats, who are quick to point out that in the wake of six years under the Reinfeldt’s conservative government, unemployment in Sweden now stands at 8%.
In spite of this performance, Fredrik Reinfeldt and his centre-right Alliance for Sweden has proved to be a remarkably successful export. From David Cameron’s Great Britain to Angela Merkel’s Germany, Europe’s destiny is now in the hands of a soft modernised right. David Cameron speaks of “progressive conservatism”: a term that is every bit as contradictory as “peacekeeping missile” or “environmentally friendly dry cleaning”, but he is the one who is prime minister. And you would be forgiven for thinking that he is Fredrik Reinfeldt’s public-school educated twin brother.
At the same time, Europe’s most powerful woman, Angela Merkel, has staked her claim on a platform of pragmatism and watery centrism. Needless to say, the German social democrats are none too pleased. If Angela Merkel agrees to a compromise with socialist François Hollande, how can they vote against such a proposal? And let’s not forget that that the growth pact was their idea.
Full article: Europe’s new soft right is winning (presseurop)