Far-right party makes big gains in socially progressive Sweden

Glen Norman
September 11, 2018

The nationalist Sweden Democrats scored 19.1 percent, well above the 12.9 percent they won in the previous election in 2014.

For those predicting a decisive right-wing triumph, the ultimate result didn't quite live up to the hype.

Instead, Sunday's results effectively provided no clear victor and no convenient or simple narrative to explain the shifts underway in Swedish politics. Its showing was not as strong as the one-in-five polls had predicted, but good for a third-place finish that had the party's leader telling supporters, "We won". They come from a awful place, bad wars.

Like many mainstream conservative parties today, the Sweden Democrats position themselves as anti-immigration but not anti-immigrant. Moderate party secretary, Gunnar Strommer, said after the exit polls were published that he thinks "it's pretty clear" Lofven will need to resign.

An exit polls by public broadcaster SVT suggested the centre-right Alliance got 39.6% of the vote, slightly more than the Social Democrats on 39.4%. "They're more direct", Elias, an 18-year-old voting in his first election, told AFP.

"This government we have had now. they have prioritized, during these four years, asylum-seekers", Akesson said, giving an exhaustive list of things he says the government has failed to do for Swedish society because of migrants. "So we really have to solve it now".


Sweden faced political deadlock after the far-right made gains in legislative elections that left the question of who will form the next government up in the air on Monday, September 10.

Addressing supporters after more than four-fifths of ballots were counted, party leader Jimmie Akesson said the victory was in the number of seats the party gained in the national assembly, the Riksdagen.

Still, the Swedish election underscored a broader shift to the right in one of Europe's most socially progressive nations.

Yesterday's Communist Party of Sweden is now known as the Left Party-a perfectly respectable party that campaigned in alliance with the Social Democrats.

Instead Sweden may get centre-right government with the tacit support of the far right. Before the recent refugee crisis, which brought almost 200,000 asylum-seekers to Sweden in 2015 and 2016 alone (the highest per capita number of refugees in Europe), Sweden's other parties had largely agreed on a liberal immigration policy. "The Sweden Democrats, they've divided people up into us and them".

However, others say the Sweden Democrats are trying to fix a historical problem. And this wasn't just campaign speak. Instead, it told a more subtle but increasingly familiar tale now seen across a variety of European parliamentary systems and perhaps further afield, too - that of increasing political fragmentation and the slow decline of dominant political parties.


Adin, who did not vote despite being eligible to do so, said he had the opposite concern, that the Sweden Democrats would in fact gain influence. The Social Democrats had dominated Swedish politics through much of the 20th century. The current blocs are the so called "Red-Green" bloc, which was set up by the Social Democrats before the 2010 general election, and the Alliance, which was established by four centre-right parties in 2004.

During a heated debate Friday evening, party leader Jimmie Akesson caused a stir by saying migrants have trouble finding jobs because "they can't adjust to Sweden".

With most ballots counted, the ruling center-left Social Democrats have 28 percent of the vote, trailed by the Moderates with 19 percent and the nationalist Sweden Democrats with nearly 18 percent.

The opposition is intent on ousting Lofven, with some Moderates willing to go so far as to put an end to Sweden Demorats' pariah status and open negotiations with them.

According to the most recent official survey from 2005, foreign-born Swedes are more than twice as likely to be suspects in criminal investigations.


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