Sweden’s election marks a new far-right surge in Europe

Party leader of the Sweden Democrats Jimmie Akesson gives a speech during an election watch party at the Elite Hotel Marina Tower in Nacka, near Stockholm, on Sept. 11. (Stefan Jerrevang/TT News Agency/AP)

Another taboo in Europe is about to be broken. In Sweden, voters delivered a narrow mandate after elections on Sunday to a loose coalition of right-wing parties, including one with a neo-fascist past. On Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, a center-left Social Democrat allied to other left and green parties, conceded defeat. Her party had won 30 percent of the vote — making it still the single largest faction in parliament — but their coalition secured three fewer seats than their rivals to the right.

The kingmakers in Sweden are the far-right Sweden Democrats (SD), a party founded in 1988 by ultranationalist extremists and neo-Nazis. Over the past decade, they have moved from the fringes of their country’s politics into the mainstream. This week, they secured some 20 percent of the Swedish vote, enough to make them the second-largest party in Sweden.

But they may not formally be in power. Such is the political stigma around them that they may remain technically outside a government led by the center-right Moderates and Liberals, yet crucially not in opposition. Coalition politics carry many complexities and wrangling over the new government may take weeks. Whatever the outcome, it seems the far-right SD believes it has a major seat at the table in a country long known for its progressive ethos and policies.

“Now we will get order in Sweden,” SD leader Jimmie Akesson wrote Wednesday on Facebook. “It is time to start rebuilding security, prosperity and cohesion. It’s time to put Sweden first.”


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