Right-Wing Anti-Immigration Party Notches Best Showing Ever in Sweden

Sweden is often held up as the paradigm of socialist democracies, and rightly so. The country often tops ranks in regards to happiness, human development indicators, and other metrics. Still, many Swedish voters are discontent with politics-as-usual, and especially immigration, thus propelling the far-right Sweden Democrats to their best showing ever, securing 17.6 percent of the vote.

The left-wing coalition, which includes the ruling Social Democrats, received the most votes, securing 40.6 percent. The Social Democrats had dominated Swedish politics through much of the 20th century. However, in 2006 the party lost to the center-right Alliance for Sweden and wouldn’t regain control of the government until 2014. In 2014, the Social Democrats were able to take back control of the government despite receiving just 30.7 percent of the vote.

Most likely, the Social Democrats and their left-wing allies will remain in charge. The center-right Alliance managed to secure 40.3 percent of the vote and if they teamed up with the far-right Sweden Democrats, they’d be able to form a government. So far, however, that seems unlikely as the Alliance has rejected any cooperation with the Sweden Democrats.

As for the Sweden Democrats, the recently concluded election marks the best performance ever for the party. In 2014, the Sweden Democrats secured just 5.7 percent of the vote. This year, however, the party surged to 17.6 percent as discontent among blue collar workers and men led to an upsurge in support. Ultimately, the party underperformed a bit, with many analysts projecting them to secure 20 percent or more of the vote.

The Sweden Democrats rise comes after widespread discontent over immigration, particularly the massive influx of refugees which started in 2015. While Sweden is home to just 10 million people, the country accepted over 160,000 refugees. To put that into context, the United States accepted up to 110,000 refugees under President Obama and just 50,000 under President Trump.

Some allege that the refugees have engaged in organized crime and other illegal activities. Many allege that immigrants were behind the massive car bombing spree in August, which saw 160 cars torched. The attack appears to have been organized. One suspect fled to Turkey after the bombings, where he was then detained and deported. While the Social Democrats initially welcomed immigrants with open arms, party officials have recently hinted at support for restricting immigration.

The Sweden Democrats have been championing closed borders for years and want to severely restrict immigration and integration. The Sweden Democrats now believe that the influx of refugees is threatening national identity. In order to counter this, the party wants to encourage refugees to migrate elsewhere and to help them in their country of origin. The Sweden Democrats also want to pull Sweden out of the European Union.

The Social Democrats represent one of just many far-right parties that have risen to prominence over the last few years. Many European voters are dissatisfied with what they view as heavy-handed EU leadership from Brussels and also immigration. Roughly 2.2 million people are illegally residing in the European Union, many of them being refugees from Africa, the Middle East, or Central Asia. Millions more have been granted legal status.

Voters have already voted to remove the United Kingdom from the European Union, with the lack of border control being among the biggest driving factors. In Italy, France, the Netherlands, and elsewhere, long left-leaning countries have seen their right-wing parties gain ground. Meanwhile, Poland and Hungary are outright controlled by far-left parties. Immigration and the EU’s bureaucracy both appear to be driving factors across the board.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Brian Brinker

Brian Brinker is a political consultant and has an M.A in Global Affairs from American University.

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