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Social democracy – a Scandinavian mystery?

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Perceptions of Scandinavia at the moment are governed by its seemingly endless production line of quality crime fiction and drama – the likes of Wallander, The Killing and the ubiquitious Girl With the Dragon Tattoo franchise, not to mention the terrifying work of Tove Jansson

Previously these countries, particularly Norway and Sweden, were probably best known for their espousal of social democracy, a political approach which during the Cold War came to be seen as a middle way between capitalism and communism, and which is explored in Professor Francis Sejersted’s The Age of Social Democracy. Norway and Sweden in the Twentieth Century (reviewed in detail here).

On the surface, these may appear to be contrasting phenomena, but in fact leftist politics and Scandi-crime have long been interrelated. The Martin Beck novels of the 1960s and 1970s were written by Marxist husband-and-wife team Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, social issues in the Swedish welfare state feature in many Wallander tales, and Stieg Larsson himself was a noted left-winger.

The Moomins, of course, were nihilists…