The Swedish Political Mainstream in Crisis: In The Light of Radical Right-Wing Populism

University essay from Lunds universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: The rise of radical right-wing populism in Western Europe has severely altered the political landscape during the last decade, and mainstream parties, from left to right, are struggling to employ strategies preventing voters from deserting to the radical right. In this thesis, I examine two mainstream parties in the context of Sweden, the Social Democratic party (S), and the Moderate party (M), to learn what strategies the parties have applied in the light of rising radical right-wing populism, relating to two issue-dimensions: the socio-cultural and the socio-economic. This study’s content analysis is structured around four issues within the two dimensions: Immigration, Multiculturalism, Social-Investment Policy and Social-Consumption Policy, and examine manifesto data from 2014, 2018 and 2022. The results are conversed in accordance with Bonnie Meguid’s influential PSO-framework, to make out if S and M have used dismissive, adversarial, or accommodative strategies. Within the socio-cultural dimension, the results indicated that both S and M moved from applying an adversarial strategy in 2014 to adopting an accommodative strategy in 2018 and 2022, although S additionally used a dismissive strategy throughout. In the socio-economic dimension, results were ambiguous, but implied that both parties had used a dismissive strategy in relation to Social-Investment Policies.

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