Ideological convergence is occurring in both Sweden and France according to recent opinion pieces in the Guardian. With elections about to occur in Sweden, and more distantly in France, two columnists have written about prospects of the left and how there's not much to separate left and right in these countries. Agnes Poirier compares the wannabe French socialist candidate Segolene Royal to the Tory leader David Cameron, drawing parallels on how influenced they are by Tony Blair in the article David wants to beat him. Segolene wants to be him. While Polly Toynbee warns the Labour chancellor to avoid the pitfalls of moderation that have led to the decline of the Social Democrats in Sweden: Brown must beware the human hunger for the shock of the new. The lesson in both articles is that these boring left parties offer no hope to electors.
Poirier's article correctly points out that Segolene Royal and David Cameron are both products and continuations of Blairite-type politics. She says that to win power they will do everything like Blair:
campaign on the left, and govern from the right. That's what you do these days in Europe. Look at left-leaning Romano Prodi, implementing economic liberal reforms that rightwinger Silvio Berlusconi could never achieve in his five-year tenure at the helm of government. Today, it seems, it doesn't matter what background one comes from, conservative or socialist.
Toynbee's article says that in Sweden the conservative Moderate party is about to knock the Social Democrats out of office (where they've been for nearly all of the last 80 years) 'by copying virtually every social democratic policy and promising to change very little.' The Moderates have dropped all anti-welfare state policies and said they will retain the current tax system and won't make cuts to the public sector. Toynbee says the parties are so similar that you 'need deft codebreaking skills to spot the differences' in their manifestos, and 'both sides fight over a diminished piece of turf in the centre ground by deliberately blurring their identities.' The only real political fights are therefore around 'scandals' and other circuses. Sounds a lot like New Zealand really.