In full euphoria on election night, when it was already clear that the far-right Sweden Democrats (SD) party had overtaken the Moderate Party as the second most voted force, one of its leaders greeted “Helg seger” with an outstretched arm before the cameras, glass in hand. She was missing a letter for “hell seger,” the Swedish Nazi salute equivalent to “siegheil” german, but Rebecca Fallenkvist, a candidate for the Stockholm regional council but above all known as a presenter for the SD Riks YouTube channel, she was quick to clarify that she had meant “victory weekend”, a grammatically strange formula to celebrate the result of her match. “I have no responsibilities in what people interpret, only in what I say,” Fallenkvist wanted to settle on Monday. She simply admitted that she should not have granted that interview, that she lacked sobriety.
Avoiding such outbursts has been one of Jimmie Åkesson’s main missions since in 2005, at just 26 years old, he took charge of the Sweden Democrats, founded in 1988 by leaders of Nordic supremacism. In 2006, the party’s logo changed from a torch bearing the flaming Swedish flag – modeled on the one then displayed by the openly neo-fascist UK National Front – to a harmless blue flower, a representation of the liver anemone, very common in Swedish forests. Åkesson, who before joining SD in 1995 was a member of the Moderate Party youth, purged his ranks of neo-Nazis, recruited turncoats from the so-called “bourgeois parties” and resigned from ‘Swexit’ on his way to being decisive in the governance of Sweden. “An important factor is the extreme right’s attempt to de-diabolize itself, to present itself as not-so-radical forces, which does not mean that there are no dangerous elements among its militants and leaders,” explains Steven Forti, professor of Contemporary History at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and author of the book Extreme right 2.0.
Under Åkesson, the Sweden Democrats went from 2.9% of the vote in 2006 to entering the Riksdag (Swedish Parliament) in 2010 with 5.7%, with a program that advocated in an uninhibited way for a more restrictive immigration policy, recover life imprisonment and immediate expulsion for foreign citizens who commit crimes. to this speech, SD opposed the defense of the welfare state for retirees and families with children, even making a campaign video in which an old woman disputed the pension with a group of women with nicab. In 2014, after Sweden admitted more than 160,000 Syrian refugees, SD reached 12.9% of the vote, which became 17.6% in the 2018 general election. After the last election campaign, marked by the sharp increase in armed violence in the main cities of the country – so far this year 47 people have died from shootings, more than in all of 2021, the BBC recently collected – Sweden Democrats have risen with 20.5% of the votes. The result forced the resignation of the Prime Minister, the Social Democrat Magdalena Andersson: the sum of SD with the center-right bloc (moderate, Christian Democrats and Liberals) obtained the majority by only three seats, 176 against 173.
“The electoral context has been favorable to them, but it is not something specific. SD has increased its results gradually for a long time and has become an accepted partner in the Riksdag, at least for some games.warns Johan Martinsson, political science researcher and director of the SOM Institute at the University of Gothenburg. As specific factors for the rise of the far right in Sweden, he lists “unusually high immigration for many years and of asylum seekers, in addition to the relatively poor integration of new immigrants into the labor market. Not forgetting the growing concern about violent crime, which has increased over the last seven years: in public debate, it has been more or less explicitly linked to immigration.”
The Social Democrats also toughened their migratory discourse in the campaign. Magdalena Andersson stated that she did not want “Chinatowns in Sweden, nor Somalitowns or Little Italies”, in statements that pretended to be old-fashioned and ended up taking their toll on her. “Overton’s window, what is acceptable to say in a society and what is not, has moved in recent years thanks to the extreme right. That impacts all political parties and society but, as Le Pen said, people prefer the original to the copy”, reflects Forti. In Sweden, the leader of the Moderate Party, Ulf Kristersson, is in the position of forming a government, being the third most voted force. In the last year, Conservatives, Christian Democrats and Liberals have lowered the cordon sanitaire that they maintained with SD since it entered parliament in 2010: it seems that now they are open to agreeing with the party without it entering the executive. Despite his desire to be part of a government that puts Sweden “first”, Jimmie Åkesson has declared that he does not want to “force”. For his party, the most important thing is the policy of the new executive, he has declared. Mark it, in whatever formula.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.