In the history of the left, is the country leaning to the far right?

Swedes made their voices heard this Sunday during the legislative elections. According to the first exit poll results, which will definitely be confirmed this Wednesday, the hard right, represented here by the Sweden Democrats (DS), could take an unprecedented place in a political spectrum in Sweden. Based on votes counted Monday afternoon covering nearly 95% of polling stations, the anti-immigration party will gather 20.6%. Finally, the right-wing bloc (SD, Moderates, Christian Democrats and Liberals) will get 49.7% of the vote and the left-wing bloc (Social Democrats, Left Party, Greens and Center Party) will get 48 .8%.

But what (nationalist) fly stung the Swedes? What is this DS, National Rally with Nordic sauce? And when did Sweden, now envied for its left-wing socio-economic model, move to the right, or even to the far right? 20 minutes examines this political change, far from being anecdotal as it seems to have spread throughout Scandinavia.

What is the Sweden Democrats Party?

“Initially, the Sweden Democrats party was a right-wing populist formation, resulting from an extreme right-wing movement founded in 1988”, reminds 20 minutes Cyril Coulet, specialist in the Nordic countries and former researcher at the Swedish Institute of International Relations. Initially, the Democrats of Sweden (DS) party was called “Bevara Sverige Svenskt” (meaning “let’s keep Sweden Swedish”) and had many neo-Nazi militants in it. However, “the DS remained at the forefront of Swedish politics in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, explains Cyril Coulet. It was in the 2000s, with the rise of his head in Jimmie Åkesson, 43 years, that the party will begin its normalization of the political spectrum. »

Now, with a provisional score of 20.7%, it is impossible to ignore this star in the Swedish polls. But what does he claim? Criticizing immigration, Euroscepticism and the promotion of the welfare state, “the party has quite classic themes in its genre”. On the ideological level, Jimmie Åkesson, its leader since 2005, openly criticizes multiculturalism and frankly promotes “native Swedes”.

Why is the collapse of a nationalist party in Sweden historic?

“The Swedish Democratic Party has continued to grow since 2010,” said a former researcher at the Swedish Institute of International Relations. Although it was contained before that, it had already reached the important Swedish power class. More importantly, the Sweden Democrats party is neither more nor less than the second political force in the country. The ultra-conservative party can, thus, claim a coalition with the traditional right of the country “and that is historic”, said Cyril Coulet. Until now, the DS has many deputies in the area that cannot be excluded from the political arena. “And that is also historic, in a country that is somewhat anchored to the left”, added the expert.

In a country increasingly inflamed by the issue of internal security, the suburbs, widespread islamophobia and more generally in immigration, “the promise of a welfare state that allows individuals to free themselves from their communities is gaining more followers”. This will explain how the party increased from 4% of the vote in 2010 to more than 20% in 2022.

Therefore, if the scores are confirmed on Wednesday, the left will leave power after eight years at the helm. And with a provisional score of 20.6%, DS will sign a new record and become the first party on the right side but also the second party in Sweden. And “it smells so bad”, launched Sunday Jimmie Åkesson in front of his fusion troops in his campaign HQ.

Is this rise in the extreme right common to all Nordic countries?

“Completely,” answered the specialist in the Nordic countries bluntly. Sweden has so far served as an exception in a Nordic landscape that is still firmly rooted on the right. Since 2010, Finland and Norway have seen the arrival of conservative or populist parties to the fore: the Party of Finns with populist and nationalist tendencies or the Progress Party (Norway), libertarian and conservative.

Remember, however, that last April, a series of violent riots almost under the radar. Sweden has been the scene of violent confrontations between police and rioters. The reason? Demonstrators protest against a gathering of anti-immigration and anti-Islam groups called “Hard Line” [«Stram Kurs »], directed by Danish-Swedish Rasmus Paludan. The latter plans to start a “tour” in Sweden on Thursday, targeting neighborhoods with large Muslim populations to burn the Koran there.

Still, on Sunday, the last bastion, the ballot boxes, will be conquered? “With the legislative elections, a new step has been taken in Sweden, many Cyril Coulet. In Sweden for sure, but also in all the Nordic countries. »

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