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Leonid Bershidsky

Sweden’s Centrists Can Celebrate, But Not Too Hard

The vote was a warning to centrists to do more to integrate immigrants.

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Photographer: Jonas Ekstromer/AFP/Getty Images

Deciding what to make of European election results these days is a glass half empty — glass half full exercise. Sunday’s election in Sweden is yet another case in point, with some striking similarities to the vote that took place last year in another bastion of European progressivism, the Netherlands.

A pessimist will grumble that the Social Democrats, whose leader Stefan Lofven has served as prime minister for the last four years, have performed worse than ever in their history; the last time they did anything like as badly as their current 28.4 percent result was in 1911, when they garnered 28.5 percent of the vote. The Sweden Democrats, a nationalist party with neo-Nazi roots that once had a platform calling for the forced deportation of all immigrants, including those already granted citizenship, by contrast, achieved its greatest electoral success; having started out with 0.4 percent of the vote in 1998, it won 17.6 percent on Sunday.