Fact Check: Are The Scandinavian Countries Socialist?

Fact Check: Are The Scandinavian Countries Socialist?
Fact Check: Are The Scandinavian Countries Socialist?

The world is full of opinions, but some things are just facts – so well established that no sensible person would argue against them. The Earth isn’t flat. You can’t get more energy out of a system than you put into it. And socialism has never worked.


  • Over the past 120 years or so, socialism has been tried in a wide range of countries, from advanced industrial nations like East Germany to emerging former colonies in Africa and Asia. It’s failed every time, inevitably leading to poverty, repression and violence.
  • Many on the left won’t accept this though. They insist on pointing to “socialist success stories,” and the ones they always come up with are the Scandinavian countries – Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. That’s what real socialism looks like, they say; we should be aiming for that, not some disintegrating hellhole like Maduro’s Venezuela.
  • The problem with this argument is that it relies on the Scandinavian countries actually being socialist – and they’re not. In fact they’re some of the most capitalist economies on Earth.
  • Norway is currently ruled by a coalition of the center-right Conservative Party, the libertarian Progress Party and the Liberal Party (in Europe, liberals are what we’d call libertarians). It does not have a socialist government.
  • Sweden’s government is dominated by the Social Democratic Worker’s Party, which is on the center-left – but it isn’t socialist. Its policies are based on a capitalist economy generating wealth, which is then taxed to redistribute income. The SDWP has always rejected socialist policies like state ownership of the means of production. Sweden doesn’t have a socialist government either.
  • Finnish president, Sauli Niinistö, is an independent, but he’s backed by the center-right Christian Democratic Party.  Niinistö himself is socially conservative on issues like gay marriage. His parliament is a coalition of two conservative parties and the Greens. FInland, which relies on the wealth created by private companies like Nokia, does not have a socialist government.
  • The largest party in Denmark is the left-wing Social Democrats, but the country’s actually run by a coalition of the right-wing Venstre, Liberal Alliance, Conservative and Christian Democrat parties, led by the very right-wing Danish People’s Party. Non-socialist Norway, Sweden and Finland see Denmark as dangerously right-wing.
  • All these countries have high taxes and generous social programs – but that’s not socialism. Socialism is where the government owns the factories and decides what they make. Scandinavians hate that idea; they’re proud of their successful private companies, like IKEA, Nokia and Volvo.
  • Corporation tax levels in Scandinavia are low – much lower than in the USA. All four countries are good places to run a business, and that’s a deliberate policy to encourage private companies.
  • Norway, Sweden and Denmark don’t even have a minimum wage – an idea that would horrify Democrats.
  • The Scandinavian countries all have far-left parties. Almost nobody votes for them. At the last Norwegian election the Socialist Left party got 6% of the vote. Denmark’s Socialist Party got 4.2%. The Finnish Communists received 0.25%, while Sweden’s Communists only managed 0.1%. Scandinavians don’t want to try Marx’s ideas.