We are only a couple of weeks into the present parliamentary term and – would you have guessed it? – the media and the pollsters are already predicting doom and gloom for the government. The dominant narrative in the media is focus on the government’s broken promises and the seeming collapse in support for the left wing in polls.
So: How dead is the government?
First of all, readers might like to take a look at the political reviews section on this site and read the “Instant failure” series from 2007, chronicling the first year of the Swedish four-party government which did in fact sink like a stone in polls after … basically delivering on its election promises from 2006. Voters are strange creatures: Deliver, and they hate you. Break your promises, and they hate you.
Just to finish this line of argument, what saved the Swedish government was the combination of the impact of the financial crisis and the lack of an attractive alternative (the agreement between the Swedish Social Democrats, the Green Party and – in particular – the Left Party failed to convince potential floating voters). The are a number of known unknowns and unknown unknowns we have to take into account before predicting the demise of the government. In this case, the performance of the Danish economy during the coming term will be interesting to follow.
Obviously, ditching the restoration of the four-year unemployment benefit and the Early Retirement Benefit goes against the SocDem-SF programme, but any voter who had bothered following the campaign would know that this would be the only conceivable outcome. That media and the political opposition put a hard spin on this, is equally unsurprising. And if you think twice, we may have one crucial part of the explanation in the weak performance of the SocDems and SF in this election here.
Similarly, that the party holding the median legislator holds (or appears to hold) a disproportionally large influence on the government programme is not surprising to any card-carrying political scientists.