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Researcher: Making populists pariahs 'can keep them at bay'

Published torsdag 16 mars kl 12.55
"It is not impossible to keep up the pariah status"
(0:46 min)
A picture of Professor Jonas Hinnfors.
Professor Jonas Hinnfors, University of Gothenburg.

The election result in The Netherlands shows that mainstream parties can successfully combat right-wing populist parties by refusing to work with them, validating the approach in Sweden, according to a leading academic.

Jonas Hinnfors, politics professor at the University of Gothenburg, said: "If there is a lesson to learn, it is that it is not impossible to keep up the pariah status while at the same time keeping the populist-radical party at bay."

Sweden's parties of the centre-right and centre-left have, until a recent move by the Moderate Party, refused to either negotiate with the populist Sweden Democrats in parliament, or to enter into coalition governments with them. 

This is in contrast to Norway and Finland where populist parties are now part of coalition governments, and also to Denmark, where the populist Danish People's Party has long exerted a powerful influence in exchange for supporting centre-right governments. 

Mainstream parties in The Netherlands have taken an approach similar to those in Sweden, with all the major parties publically stating that they will not work with the Freedom Party led by Geert Wilders.

Hinnfors warned that it was difficult to draw direct lessons or make predictions because each country's situation was different.

He pointed out, however, that the populist right-wing parties had not grown dramatically in Sweden or The Netherlands for the last couple of years.

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