Fredrik Erixon

What does the European centre-right stand for?

Friedrich Merz, the leader of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), dropped the bomb last weekend. In a TV interview, Merz opened the door for collaboration with Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), the nationalist-populist party that is home to Germany’s cabal of crackpots and right-wing extremists. He didn’t say what form such co-operation would take, but talked

Why Sanna Marin lost Finland’s election

A journalist and observer of Finnish politics once said there is one headline that works for every Finnish election: ‘Finland elects new government, nothing will change’. Few prime ministers have survived longer than one term in the Arctic nation. Just as day becomes night and that spring follows on winter, the rhythm of the country’s

Is this the birth of a Nordic Nato?

In the past six weeks, Finland and Sweden’s security policies have changed more than they have over the past six decades. In much of what they do, the two countries come as a couple and were militarily neutral during the Cold War – but their defence cooperation has only deepened since Russia’s invasion of Crimea in

A mix of Corbyn, Greta and XR: Norway’s new coalition

Norway has just elected a new Prime Minister. Erna Solberg, the convivial centre-right leader that has governed the country for eight years, is now on her way out. Her coalition — which included the populist Progress party, the liberals and the Christian democrats — took a heavy beating last night, losing almost ten percentage points since

What Sweden’s political crisis says about Europe’s collapsing centre

Uppsala Nooshi Dadgostar is Sweden’s new political star. A young, softly spoken politician with Iranian immigrant parents and an unfinished degree in law, she became the leader of the Vansterpartiet (‘Left party’) late last year — taking over from Jonas Sjöstedt, a bleeding-heart version of Jeremy Corbyn who struggled to shake off the party’s communist

Orban and Macron, Europe’s new power couple

After Brexit, the general assumption was that France and Germany would take their place as the two rulers of Europe. But Angela Merkel’s influence has been waning and Germany is often an absent power — preoccupied as it is by redefining its own politics after 15 years of her rule. This suits Emmanuel Macron, who

Can the EU survive this virus?

This coronavirus has been cruel to the European Union. The supposed fraternity of member states was the first casualty of the virus, as countries hoarded their medical equipment and banned exports to each other. When Italy’s borrowing costs soared Christine Lagarde, now president of the European Central Bank, said this was not her problem. After

League of nations: the race out of lockdown

Uppsala Last week, Europe started its liberation from lockdown — and it all feels like a study in national political identity. Belgium took its first step towards ‘deconfinement’ but no one seems exactly sure what that means. France is opting for complexity rather than simplicity. Italy’s national plan for the easing of its lockdown is

The crisis in Sweden’s care homes

Sweden’s refusal to embrace lockdown measures used elsewhere to deal with the threat of coronavirus hasn’t led to the steep spike in deaths and intensive care patients that some feared. Our death toll is, at the time of writing, close to 2,020 – and the rate of infections is slowly declining. The number of patients

The Swedish experiment looks like it’s paying off

Two weeks ago, I wrote about ‘the Swedish experiment’ in The Spectator.  As the world went into lockdown, Sweden opted for a different approach to tackling coronavirus: cities, schools and restaurants have remained open. This was judged by critics to be utterly foolish: it would allow the virus to spread much faster than elsewhere, we were told, leading to

No lockdown, please, we’re Swedish

Uppsala Who would have thought that Sweden would end up being the last place in Europe where you could go for a beer? We have, in our normalcy, suddenly become an exotic place. Other countries are closing their cities, schools and economies, but life in our corner of the world is surprisingly ordinary. Last weekend

The death of the centre in European politics

It’s hard not to feel sorry for Leo Varadkar. He positioned himself as Ireland’s champion and even ended up with a decent deal. He expected some kind of electoral dividend in the snap election as he urged voters to stay away from the dangerous fringes occupied by Sinn Fein. Instead, they turned to Sinn Fein

Delhi Notebook

India is not preparing for war, but picking up the newspapers in Delhi you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. For weeks, the papers have been blowing the horns of retribution against Islamabad after a convoy of police officers was rammed by a suicide bomber in Kashmir. Since both sides acquired nuclear weapons, neither had

The last heave

There is a strange pre-revolutionary atmosphere in Brussels. At the various receptions and dinners before we broke up for Christmas, it felt a bit like the Last Supper. Elections to the European Parliament are usually predictable affairs, but this time Europhiles (like myself) fear it will be different. We have grown used to populists doing

Angela Merkel is already making life difficult for her successor

“May Day, May Day. We are sinking.” “This is the German Coast Guard. What are you thinking?” This advert for Berlitz, the language school, is a good metaphor for German politics and the decline of Angela Merkel. After this weekend’s election blow in Hesse, where support for her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party fell by

Sweden’s PM is out – but for how long?

If Theresa May feels a bit disoriented and lonely – under pressure from her own friends in parliament – she could take some comfort in that she isn’t trying to run a government in Sweden. The country’s election delivered an inconclusive result. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and his red-green coalition government lost a lot of

Sweden ablaze

 Uppsala, Sweden When I dropped off my kids at school early last week, I noticed that -another parent’s car was covered in ash — it had been parked in a garage where arsonists had been at work, attacking scores of vehicles. His Volvo had got away: just. ‘My car can be cleaned,’ the father told

Angela’s ashes

‘This is not about whether Mrs Merkel stays as chancellor next week or not,’ said Xavier Bettel, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, as he came out of an emergency summit on immigration last weekend. He was joking. That was exactly what the meeting had been about, and everybody there knew it. The summit was Operation

Macron’s next move

It was a moment to cherish, not to spoil. But I wasn’t the only one at the grand Charlemagne prize ceremony for Emmanuel Macron in Aix-la-Chapelle last week to wonder if the French President has already accepted that the federalist game is up. The medal is awarded for services to the cause of European unification,