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What do TV viewing habits reveal about political preferences in Sweden?

Is there a link between political preferences and TV viewing habits? A new survey looked at the favourite TV programmes of Swedes based on their voting habits, and the results could be revealing.

What do TV viewing habits reveal about political preferences in Sweden?
File photo: AndreyBezuglov/Depositphotos

Voters of the centre-right Moderates are particularly keen on House of Cards and legal drama Suits, according to the survey by the Novus consultancy group. Perhaps it's not surprising that fans of the country's main opposition party had a taste for a political thriller, since their own party is also in crisis with ousted leaders and turncoat MPs.

Moderates voters were also bigger fans of Wahlgren's world, a reality show following the everyday life of Swedish singer Pernilla Wahlgren, than supporters of other parties.

When it came to the country's largest and oldest party, Social Democrat supporters were most likely to tune into Veckans Brott, a weekly programme which looks at current and historical crime cases in Sweden, or Vår tid är nu (Our time is now), a postwar drama which has been called Sweden’s answer to Downton Abbey. 

They were the least likely group to watch reality show Paradise Hotel in which single people stay in a luxury hotel and must form couples.

READ ALSO: Swedish postwar drama pulls in record viewing figures

By contrast, Centre Party voters favoured Paradise Hotel along with Swedish reality show Bonde söker fru (Farmer wants a wife), a dating show featuring Swedish farmers. Could their interest in farmers' love lives have anything to do with the fact that the Centre Party was first founded in 1913 as the Farmers' League?

Among supporters of the right-wing Sweden Democrats, one in four watch Lyxfällan, a programme in which people facing economic difficulties are given financial help and coaching from experts. Though the party falls well on the right of the political spectrum regarding immigration issues, it is far closer to the left in terms of policies defending the Swedish welfare state.

But they were much less likely than supporters of other parties to tune in for Modern Family, Vår tid är nu, Game of Thrones, or Norwegian youth series Skam.

“Doesn't this say absolutely everything about Swedish politics?” security expert Oscar Jonsson tweeted. 

“Green and red are statistically above and below the general population,” he helpfully added. 

For the survey, Novus questioned a random, representative sample of Swedes aged between 18 and 79. Though the report only looked at the link between party preference and TV shows, many other factors such as age, gender, and income can influence or explain viewing habits.

ITALIAN ELECTIONS

EU sees trouble but no breakdown with Italy far-right in power

The potential emergence of a far-right government in Italy has put the European Union on alert for disruptions, with fears that unity over the war in Ukraine could be jeopardised.

EU sees trouble but no breakdown with Italy far-right in power

Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni and the League’s Matteo Salvini are slated to be the big winners in Sunday’s general election on a firmly “Italians First” agenda, in which officials in Brussels largely play the role
of the bogeyman.

The biggest worries concern the economy.

Italy’s massive debt is seen as a threat to European stability if Rome turns its back on the sound financing championed by outgoing prime minister, Mario Draghi, a darling of the EU political establishment.

A victory by Meloni and Salvini would follow fast on an election in Sweden where the virulently anti-migration and eurosceptic Sweden Democrats entered a ruling coalition, just months before the Scandinavian country is due to take over the EU’s rotating presidency.

READ ALSO: Giorgia Meloni’s party will likely win the elections – but will it last?

But officials in Brussels said they would not jump to conclusions about Italy, cautiously hanging on to reassurances made by key right-wing players ahead of the vote.

Giorgia Meloni delivers speech at party rally

Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni (Rear C on stage) delivers a speech on September 23, 2022 in Naples. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

“This is not the first time that we risk confronting governments formed with far-right or far-left parties,” said European Commissioner Didier Reynders, a veteran of EU politics.

“Let voters choose their elected representatives. We will react to the actions of the new government and we have instruments at our disposal,” he added.

That was echoed by Commission head Ursula von der Leyen, who warned that Brussels had “tools” to deal with errant member states.

“My approach is that whatever democratic government is willing to work with us, we’re working together,” she said.

Anti-immigration League leader Matteo Salvini condemned the EU chief’s comments on Friday, calling them “squalid threats”.

READ ALSO: How would victory for Italy’s far right impact foreigners’ lives?

‘Benefit of the doubt’

Italy has huge amounts of EU money on the line. It is awaiting nearly 200 billion euros in EU cash and loans as part of the country’s massive share of the bloc’s coronavirus recovery stimulus package.

In order to secure each instalment, the government must deliver on a long list of commitments to reform and cut back spending made by previous administrations.

“To do without the billions from the recovery plan would be suicidal,” said Sebastien Maillard, director of the Jacques Delors institute.

“We will give them the benefit of the doubt,” said an EU official, who works closely with Italy on economic issues.

and right-wing parties Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d'Italia, FdI), the League (Lega) and Forza Italia at Piazza del Popolo in Rome, ahead of the September 25 general election.

(From L) Leader of Italian far-right Lega (League) party Matteo Salvini, Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi, leader of Italian far-right party Brothers of Italy Giorgia Meloni, and Italian centre-right lawmaker Maurizio Lupi on stage on September 22, 2022 during a joint rally of Italy’s coalition of far-right and right-wing parties. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)

“We will judge them on their programme, who will be the finance minister. The names being mentioned are people that we in Brussels are familiar with,” the official added.

READ ALSO: Political cheat sheet: Understanding the Brothers of Italy

However, when it comes to Russia, many fear that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will find in Italy a quick ally in his quest to water down measures against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A longtime friend of the Kremlin, Salvini has promised that he will not try to undo the EU sanctions. But many believe that his government will make the process more arduous in the coming months.

Whether the war or soaring inflation, “what we are facing in the coming months is going to be very difficult and very much test European unity”, said Fabian Zuleeg, chief executive at the European Policy Centre.

The likely election result in Italy is “not going to help in making some of these hard decisions”, he added.

READ ALSO: TIMELINE: What happens on election day and when do we get the results?

France’s European affairs minister, Laurence Boone, pointed to the headache of the far-right’s unpredictability.

“One day they are for the euro, one day they are not for the euro. One day they support Russia, one day they change their minds,” she told French radio.

“We have European institutions that work. We will work together. But it is true that it is worrying,” she added

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