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Series: Politics Today
Author: David Arter

This book analyses the contemporary politics of the nation states of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and the Home Rule territories of Greenland, Faeroes and Åland that together make up the Nordic region. It covers Scandinavia past and present, parties in developmental perspective, the Scandinavian party system model, the Nordic model of government, the Nordic welfare model, legislative-executive relations in the region, and the changing security environment. The Nordic states have a shared history, common linguistic bonds and a common state Lutheran religion. Of the six Scandinavian languages, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish are mutually intelligible, whilst Swedish is an official national language in Finland. Turning to a brief overview of nation-building and state-building in the Nordic region, an obvious distinction can be drawn between those 'stateless nations' which went on to achieve statehood and the territories that have not achieved independence. The book presents a brief chronology of events in Norden up to 1922, when Åland achieved autonomy. In Sweden the historic phase of party-building produced a basic two-plus-three configuration and a party system based on five 'isms': communism, social democracy, agrarianism, liberalism and conservatism. By 1930 there was a bifurcated parliamentary left and a fragmented nonsocialist bloc consisting of essentially town-based Liberal and Conservative parties and a farmer-based Agrarian Party. Whilst acknowledging the limitations inherent in the periodisation of party system change, the book focuses on the extent of party system change since the 'earthquake elections' of 1970-73.

David Arter

1920s? Several authors, notably Sten Berglund and Ulf Lindström (1978), have referred to the crystallisation after the historic period of party-building from the 1880s to the 1920s of a basic five-party Scandinavian party system model. The second part of this chapter presents the basic features of this model, with Sweden as the prototype. The principal question is: what are the basic character­istics of the five-party Scandinavian model and how well does Sweden fit the ideal type? The final section of the discussion explores whether there were significant deviations

in Scandinavian politics today
David Arter

5 The ‘earthquake elections’ of 1970–73 and the emergence of new party types So long as there are high taxes and Muslims, we’ve got something to fight for. (Mogens Glistrup, founder member of Danish Progress Party, cited in Miller 1991: 75) The so-called ‘earthquake elections’, first in Finland and then in Denmark and Norway between 1970 and 1973, constituted a root-and-branch challenge to the unidimensional Scandinavian party system model and the old mould ­appeared irrevocably broken. Since this seismic period, four developments stand out. First, electoral

in Scandinavian politics today
David Arter

emergence and consolidation of new party types, it seems important to tie together the threads of our discussion in the previous chapter by seeking to assess the extent of party system change in Scandinavia since the ‘earthquake elections’. Has the five-party Scandinavian party system model changed out of all recognition? How much ‘change’ and how much ‘persistence’ has there been? In the following analysis, a distinction is drawn between the electoral party system and the legislative party system. The 134 Parties, voters and social change two may be treated

in Scandinavian politics today
David Arter

4 The historic strengths of the five main types of party Social structural conditions have been favourable for Swedish social democracy. Paradoxically, its rise to power in the 1930s and 1940s was based not so much on the working class as on the rural classes. (Esping-Andersen 1990: 38) Chapter 3’s description of the two-plus-three Scandinavian party system model using Sweden as our case study, and its note on the historic deviations in Finland, Norway and Iceland, tell us relatively little about the dynamics of the party system in the region up to 1970 or in

in Scandinavian politics today