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Filip Milacic on Threats to Democracy in Sweden

Sweden's authoritarian potential is high and consists of two specific groups of voters: those who who vote for right-wing populists and non-voters, our Research Affiliate Filip Milacic writes in his article in Aftonbladet.

“When Poles and Hungarians had to choose between politicians who defended their economic interests but also displayed authoritarian tendencies, on the one hand, and a political alternative that was more democratic but also less appealing, on the other, a majority chose the former,” he argues.

“Although some scholars and pundits have long warned of the waning support for democracy even in Western Europe, the dominant view has been that these countries are fundamentally different from their neighbors to the East,” he continues, adding that “it has been argued that while the quality of Western European democracies may be eroded as the far right grows stronger or inequalities increase, popular support for democracy itself as a form of government is solid.”

“The perception has been that an avowedly undemocratic candidate cannot win elections and that liberal democracy is here to stay. But is this really true?,” he asks.

To assess the resilience of Europe's democracies, a study was conducted in several countries, including Sweden, which found that “Swedish disengaged voters are the least democratically minded group” in the entire survey.

According to the survey, “about one in five Swedes will abandon a candidate they would otherwise have voted for, if the candidate violates democratic principles. This may not sound like much, but compared to the other countries in the survey, it is the highest level of democratic resilience.”

However, “this does not mean that there is nothing to worry about,” he warns. The results of the study suggest that there is a dangerous potential with the group of Swedish voters who have turned away from politics. “In fact, non-voters in Sweden are not only uninterested in politics, but they show a high acceptance of authoritarianism,” he writes.

Read the full article (in Swedish) here.

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