Elections in Sweden. The anti-immigrant xenophobic right comes into play

Although the majority of Swedes (over 30 percent) traditionally voted for the Social Democrats, the election was won, by a hair, by the center-right bloc, which includes the far-right, anti-immigrant party of the Swedish Democrats. More than 20 percent of Swedes voted for them, more than the Moderates whose chairman Ulf Kristersson is to become prime minister.

However, it is the SD that is the second force in parliament today and one must take it into account, and it is a party with great ambitions to make radical changes in politics.

Until recently, they were outcasts, the leaders of other parties competing in symbolic gestures of distancing themselves from the SD. There were times when someone did not shake hands with the chairman, Jimma Åkesson, after the debate [na zdjęciu podczas wieczoru wyborczego]. It is said that coffee was even avoided in the company of SD members in the lobby of the riksdag. Those times are over.

Muslim women rush for social security

The breakthrough was made by the desperate Moderaci, who decided to cooperate with the SD in some areas before the elections. For example, on the topic of changes in the migration policy. At the same time, while going to the elections, Ulf Kristersson promised that in the event of a victory he would certainly not give the SD a seat in the government. It is hard to be sure that this will not happen at the moment.

Anyway, it is of minor importance, because the center-right will be completely dependent on the support of populists anyway. The same people who a few years ago encouraged people to vote for them with a video in which aggressive Muslim women in burqas were rushing over Swedish pensioners to get social benefits.

This year, Jimmie Åkesson argued in an election ad that Sweden, “tormented by gang wars, gang rape and assaults on pensioners,” as well as the lack of electricity and chaos in education only thanks to the Swedish Democrats will become a land of happiness again. The spot was full of references to the country’s historical greatness and admiration for traditional Swedish values ​​and virtues.

In the 2018 elections, 17 percent of the electorate voted for the Swedish Democrats, and this came as a shock. The response of the world of politics was the decision to continue marginalizing the SD in the riksdag [jednoizbowy parlament Szwecji]. Members of this party were not invited to parliamentary working groups, even on key issues for the entire country. It was thought to be a way to defend Sweden against racism and populism, but it seems to have created a picture of the Swedish Democrats as victims of political correctness. For some voters: innocent and just victims. It seems that it is also thanks to the exclusion and marginalization of the Swedish Democrats in the eyes of their supporters that they have become the only ones who speak openly about the problems and pay a high price for it. It helped them a lot. Niklas Orrenius in his reportage, “Arrows in Copenhagen”, nominated for the Kapuściński award, explained it this way:

“Contempt on the part of the establishment helps the SD in creating a party of outsiders who fight against those stronger than them.”

This year, the Swedish Democrats were also helped by the fact that although many parties still do not consider them partners for dialogue, at the same time many Swedish politicians, including the Social Democrats, have started to speak … a language similar to the SD. First of all, it is about the problems with the integration of immigrants. Until recently, words about the necessity to limit asylum policy did not pass through the throats of left-handed politicians, and Denmark, unwilling to refugees, was presented as a deterrent example and the country had fallen morally. Now leading Social Democrats cite Denmark as an interesting role model.

A good example is the positive reaction to the controversial Danish program of liquidation of the so-called ethnic ghettos, where the idea is to force people described as “non-Western” to move out of immigrant districts (this includes most newcomers from outside the European Union, as well as people who have at least one parent of such origin). These actions were called by the Social Democratic members of the outgoing government as a solution worth considering.

Without Greta

In addition, the main topics of this year’s elections were, unfortunately, those that the Swedish Democrats have been talking about for years. This time the Swedes were not of much interest ecology and the greenhouse effect. It even looks like they forgot about Greta Thunberg. The Green Party had such bad results in the polls for a long time that it was uncertain whether it would enter parliament. But the voters wanted order and security, because peaceful Sweden is regularly shaken by drug gang wars that have been going on for several years. There are shootings in Swedish cities, in which gangsters (over 40 this year) are killed, but it also happens that an outsider is shot.

Worse, it is no longer possible to hide the fact that gangs are ethnic in nature. This is a topic that has not been discussed in the media for a long time, but the time is up. Today all politicians talk about the problem of lack of integration, chaos in schools in the suburbs and drawing young people into the criminal world. The Swedish Democrats emphasize that they were the first to call the problem by name and no one listened to them, and now: please! In addition, they offer very simple solutions: deportations, repatriation of migrants, closing Sweden to refugees, turning back the clock, returning to Sweden in a blonde color, just like on their election spots.

The fact that Sweden today has more than 20 percent of the population born outside the country and that without immigrants the health service, which is already struggling with staffing, would collapse, public transport stopped working, and the country would generally stop, is of no importance in the populist narrative of the SD.

Biden or Putin? I do not know

The Swedish Democrats is a party that was founded in the 1980s in Skåne and had strong ties to neo-Nazism at its beginnings. The first secretary of the SD branch in Malmö, Gösta Bergquist, boasted that in 1945 he wore a Nazi uniform in public and sold the Swedish National Socialist newspaper in Stockholm. The party leader in the early 1990s, Anders Klarström, previously belonged to the neo-Nazi National Nordic Party and was an outspoken anti-Semite. Successive SD leaders tried to move away from the image of neo-Nazis, but this did not prevent them from gaining support, including financial support, from far-right parties in other countries. In 1998, for example, the SD received half a million kronor for an election campaign from the French National Front.

In 2005, Jimmie Åkesson became party chairman and it is thanks to him (it cannot be concealed that he is an exceptionally clever politician and a good strategist) that the party got into the riksdag in 2010, and its influence and support began to grow rapidly.

Today, the Swedish Democrats have become somewhat civilized, but they are still a xenophobic party, advocating a return to traditional values, critical of liberal media, making fun of topics such as non-binary and feminism, wanting to support Swedish “traditional culture”, preferably concerts for the people in the Open Air Museum. They are supporters of Trump and Orbán, and Jimmi Åkesson before the war in Ukraine said in an interview that he was not so sure whether his leaders are closer to Biden or Putin.

They also owe their great success to the fact that they have created a whole network of their own alternative media. On Sunday evening, a journalist from the SD-funded Internet TV channel Rebecka Fallenkvis summed up the party’s success with the words Helg Seger! Literally translated, it means “Weekend Victory!”, But according to the Expo newspaper, the words may be a reference to the Nazi Hell seger. Perhaps this is an exaggeration, and it certainly is not the case that almost every fourth Swede who voted for the SD is a neo-Nazi or even a nationalist.

It is certain, however, that Sweden did not protect itself from the diseases of our time: polarization and the search for simple solutions to complicated problems in populists.

Worse, the Swedes are not a nation used to going out on the streets and demonstrating against the rulers. They like consensus. They listen to politicians. This year’s shock caused by the success of SD is much smaller than that of four years ago. Therefore, there really is a risk that Sweden will start to change in a way that no one would expect of it. And Jimmie Åkesson says he wants to become Prime Minister in the future …

Katarzyna Tubylewicz

Writer, culture expert and translator of Swedish literature. The author of, among others reportages about contemporary Sweden “Lonely Like a Swede? About Northmen who like to be alone “,” Moralists. How Swedes learn from mistakes and other stories ”. Recently she published: “The Swedish Art of Love. About love and sex in the North ”.

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