The far-right Sweden Democrats are topping the polls, and no wonderby Tatty Good / February 5, 2016 / Leave a comment
Sweden’s response to the European migrant crisis is facing a serious backlash. The Sweden Democrats, an openly anti-immigrant party, is now polling at 28.8 per cent—seven points ahead of the Social Democrat party, led by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven.
Immigration is the most hotly debated and divisive issue in Sweden at the moment, and the Sweden Democrats have benefitted. So emotive is the immigration question that elements in the conservative-leaning Moderate Party are beginning to contemplate cooperation. Although the majority of Sweden Democrats’ voters have defected from the Moderate Party, it doesn’t describe itself as either right or left wing and while its nationalist and socially conservative ideology are right-wing, their support for the welfare state is closer to the policies of the left-wing Social Democrats.
The Sweden Democrat party was officially founded in 1988, but first reached the four per cent necessary for parliamentary representation in the general election in 2010. In the last general election in September 2014 it polled 12.9 per cent, becoming Sweden’s third largest party. So far it has not managed to secure the parliamentary cooperation of other parties, which has checked its influence.
But increased levels of immigration into the EU and Sweden have changed the party’s fortunes and its message is gaining traction. Since taking over in 2005, the current party leader, Jimmie Åkesson, has been quick to distance himself from the party’s historical links to fascist and white supremacist parties and to cut out the party’s openly racist elements. Now, the party’s website is a cheery blue and yellow celebration of a pastoral, blue-eyed Sweden.