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Sweden Democrats | far-flung rise

The anti-immigrant SD has emerged as the largest party in Sweden’s opposition bloc.

The anti-immigrant SD has emerged as the largest party in Sweden’s opposition bloc.

prime minister of sweden Magdalena Anderson resigned last week After his government lost the general election. Andersen’s Swedish Social Democratic Party, which has been in power since 2014, was ousted by the right-wing opposition, riding on a strong wave of support from the Sweden Democrats (SD), an ultra-nationalist, far-right party. that detects it. The Origins of the Neo-Nazi Groups of the 1980s. While Anderson’s party won 30% of the vote, its centre-left coalition could get only 173 seats, three short of the opposition’s 176 in the 349-member parliament, where 175 is needed for a majority.

The Sweden Democrats, with 20.5% of the vote and 73 seats, have emerged as the largest unit in the right-wing coalition, which also includes the Moderate Party (19% vote share and 68 seats); very small Christian Democrats (19); and liberals (16). In the 2018 elections as well, the SD did well, securing 62 seats and prompting an avalanche of editorials touting the rise of the far-right in Sweden. At the time, however, major public opinion – in a country considered a gold standard of progressive politics – was so hostile to the SD that no opposition party dared to ally with them, prompting the Social Democrats to return to power. Returns. is no more.

The 2022 elections are a pivotal moment for the country: for the first time an ultra-nationalist, anti-immigrant party will be in a position to influence Sweden’s public policy as part of a ruling coalition. Before the elections, Moderate Party leader Ulf Christerson was the opposition’s candidate for prime minister, none of the other coalition members eager to have the SD as part of the government. But with the SD bloc emerging as the largest member, there are likely to be lengthy talks on government formation – a process that took four months in 2018. While Mr Christerson is still likely to be the next prime minister, it remains to be seen whether SD, as kingmaker, will agree to stay out of government.

At any rate, the right-wing faction appears to be united on the main issues that prompted the rise of the SD: immigration and law and order. Sweden has traditionally accepted immigrants and asylum seekers not only as a national policy but a matter of national pride. In 2015, when it had a population of 10 million, Sweden took in 163,000 immigrants, mostly Syrians and Iraqis – the most per capita of any EU country. It is one thing to welcome refugees, but their integration – especially when their numbers are large and the influx is sudden – is something else entirely.

National identity

Over time, it became clear that immigrant communities of color either could not or were not accepted as part of the Swedish national identity, with elements such as the Sweden Democrats explicitly defining one as simply ‘white’. On the contrary – the state’s idealized ideal of multiculturalism. Excluded from the mainstream – unemployment among Sweden’s immigrant population is four times that of native Swedes – immigrants came to be seen as ‘others’, people who have come to take advantage of the country’s liberal welfare system. The stereotyping of immigrants, a common theme of right-wing politics everywhere, is also ingrained in Sweden.

With the growing immigrant population, Sweden also saw a rapid rise in crime, especially mass violence. Sweden has seen 50 fatal shootings in 2022 alone – a far cry from the boringly peaceful Nordic paradise of the popular imagination. The SD, led by 43-year-old Jimmy Axon, saw rising crime rates bordering on an opportunity to go mainstream, which they did by combining a legitimate problem (deteriorating law and order) with their pet agenda – an end to immigration.

Sweden’s progressive politics was probably enough in ‘normal times’. But in the aftermath of the Ukraine war, amid a life crisis caused by rising energy prices, and a government looking too soft on crime, the SD had enough ammunition to stir up the people’s untold, underground prejudices and concerns.

Mr Axon’s slogan, not surprisingly, is Make Sweden Great Again, and it settles on two issues that hark back to a singular xenophobic agenda: banning immigration (Sweden is the hardest-hit for immigrants to enter). creating countries, reducing welfare benefits for immigrants, etc.) and cracking down on criminals through stricter policing (immediate deportation of immigrant convicts, empowering police to conduct raids in ‘some’ neighborhoods without the usual procedural hurdles) . In other words, even law-and-order agendas that seem legitimate are likely to be positioned as dog whistles for anti-immigrant sentiment.

Sweden, to its credit, held up for the longest time against a wave of right-wing populism sweeping through Europe. But clearly, even Swedish ‘extraordinaryism’ – it was the only country in Europe not to impose a lockdown at the peak of the COVID pandemic – has its limits.

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