In Western politics, fragmentation reigns

The biggest story in the Swedish election and many recent Western elections is that of fragmentation and stalemate - with weakened parties of the centre facing off against forces on the right and left that are not ready to take over

On Sunday, the Sweden Democrats, a right-wing party with roots in fascism, scored their highest share yet of the Swedish parliamentary vote - and the mandarins of Europe breathed a sigh of relief.

That is because that higher-than-ever share was only 17.6 per cent, and there had been fears that the cleaned-up fascists would reach 25 per cent instead. That such an outcome, in progressive Sweden of all places, came as a relief rather than a shock is a reminder of just how far populism has come, how much the fringes matter in Western politics and how weak the centre has become.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2018, with the headline 'In Western politics, fragmentation reigns'. Print Edition | Subscribe