The broader story of the 2010 election is the collapse of Sweden’s old political order, which was dominated by the Social Democrats (who held power for all but nine years and a few months between September 1932 and October 2006). “There is a general change in Swedish society,” Stockholm University political scientist Jenny Madestam told the New York Times prior to the vote. “Social-democratic ideas are losing their grip on Sweden, and we are getting more and more individualistic.” Indeed, the country is a far more market-friendly place today than it was 20 years ago, thanks in part to reforms implemented by the Social Democrats themselves. Over the past two decades, it has been one of Western Europe’s most energetic liberalizers — cutting taxes, loosening regulatory shackles, and increasing competition.This is what gives the left -- liberal, green, anti-capitalist, or "progressive" -- such willies. For some time now they've had to pin their dwindling hopes not on their ideas, which even they recognize as a bit old and stale, if not sclerotic, but on things like demographics -- more immigration! -- or, or, maybe a great big capitalist crisis! And so, when a great big capitalist crisis (GBCC) came along, as they routinely do, imagine the relief and even exhilaration of the left -- especially as, in the US, it coincided with not just the first black president but with the first black "progressive" President!
Little wonder, then, at their confusion, consternation, and bitterness now, when they see that even a GBCC doesn't seem to be able to turn the tide.
P.S.: here's an earlier take on the bellwether.
UPDATE: Oh, and for a little more on the greens (green being the new red for many old lefties who can't quite bring themselves to say the word "socialism" anymore), here's a piece by Johnathan Adler, "The Sorry Green Giant", showing how much of the politicized environmental movement has been taken over by an ideological rump of displaced anti-capitalists, with the result that that movement too is experiencing the ebbing of trust and interest we see in projects to expand the state everywhere:
The environmentalist love affair with big government leads to counterproductive policies and alienates large portions of the electorate. Americans may support environmental protection, but they don’t support a massive, overweening regulatory state. If the only Green answer to ecological concerns is yet more government control of private economic activity, many Americans will turn away.
This year the environmental movement suffered a tremendous political defeat — some would even call it a reckoning.