Yes, Britain is on the point of breaking up – but there are more ill winds blowing in Europe right now. The National Front is polling so strongly in France that Marine Le Pen would be president if an election was held tomorrow. And as I write, the populist Sweden Democrats seem to be the only real winners of the general election held there today.
As far as I can tell, this hasn’t been picked up by the English-language media yet – they’re focusing on the power transfer to the Social Democrats (this isn’t the same as a victory: a victory means you actually win more voters). What follows is from the Swedish TV and websites, so please forgive the dodgy translation.
The conservative Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, is out*: but we knew he would be. His party’s share of the vote is 7pc down from last year, to 23pc, a rather stunning collapse. But where has that 7pc gone? Not to his main rivals, the Social Democrats: they’re still on 31 per cent, as they were at the last general election – and that was one of their worst defeats for decades. This means Sweden is about to get a new Prime Minister (Stefan Löfven, below) who spectacularly failed to lift his party off the floor.
The only real gainer is the Sweden Democrats, who are (as I type) on 13pc of the vote, more than double the 5.8pc last time. All other parties in Sweden refuse to enter coalition with them (and were shocked enough that they got into parliament four years ago). But this has helped the Sweden Democrats play the insurgent card, saying the Stockholm “elite” is ganging up against them.
As for the other parties – they concentrated too much on denouncing the Sweden Democrats and not enough on addressing the concerns of their target voters.