- In a period when growing class differences and welfare cutbacks have fed resentment against the political establishment, the Left has been less able or willing than the populist far right to capitalize on this discontent. Growing class divides have caused a fall in real wages among the lower strata of the workforce and hit the unemployed even harder. Strongest in rural areas, this phenomenon creates a strong material base for resentment against “the establishment,” i.e. politicians and the upper-middle classes, rich in cultural capital, who mainly live in the big cities and have most benefitted financially in recent decades.
This has allowed the Sweden Democrats to make a rapid advance among these layers, especially low-skilled male workers. Alt-right media is also growing: some of the most popular websites now outcompete the largest national newspapers. Many rural voters get some or most of their news coverage from anti-immigrant propaganda.
This is not at all an argument for the Left to adopt a narrative similar to the populist far right. Rather, it needs to actively combat the far right’s rise by providing its own vision and practical solutions to these same groups of voters. The recent successes for the Left Party partly owe to its ability to present itself as an unwavering force, which does more than just tail media debates. For all its weaknesses, its fastidiousness and stability have earned it respect and made it something of a second home for disgruntled SAP voters.