World

Scandinavia Offers Hints for Achieving Successful Democracies


Efforts to integrate these newcomers – many from the Middle East and Africa – have not always been successful, and immigration has helped fuel the rise of the Swedish far-right partySwedish Democratic Party, scored 20.6 percent in last month’s electiongave it a key role in the new minority right-wing government.

The problem is less acute in Denmark, where foreign-born citizens make up about 8 to 10 percent of the population but, according to Mr Elklit, political parties across the country have also promised to limit immigration.

This has adversely affected the region’s consensus-based politics. “The relatively sharp increase in expats born in Sweden and Denmark – to a much lesser extent in Norway and Finland – has resulted in lower levels of trust,” says Mr.

However, Mr. Holmberg argues that Sweden’s increasingly diverse population has not had a significant impact on social trust, although he notes that supporters of the far-right Swedish Democrats tend to be less trust in other people and institutions. “So there’s some reason to be worried,” he said.

Like the rest of the world, Scandinavia has also seen an increase in misinformation, both domestically produced and imported, which presents a “huge challenge”, Mr. Lindberg said. “But the resilience has been good so far, and we’re happy about that.”

Mr. Elklit had firsthand experience trying to export Scandinavian models of democracy. As a consultant to the Danish government, he traveled to Africa and Asia to give advice on electoral procedures. Not many attempts have been successful, he said.

“The Danish electoral system can be useful, but it was developed over many years, between 1850 and 1920,” he said. “But in the developing world, they don’t want to wait 70 years, they want it overnight, but it’s not possible. You need to develop a political culture.”

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