The national Sweden Democrats are predicted to become the largest political party in the country following elections on September 9.
Their only problem is that none of the socialist parties that have ruled Sweden for more than 100 years will work with them. The situation is similar to what it is for other nationalist, eurosceptic parties in Germany, France, Holland, and other Western countries. The people support the nationalist agenda but other politicians refuse to have anything to do with them.
There is no doubt that the roots of the Sweden Democrats can be found in the far right. Nazi flags and uniforms were a common sight at party rallies 20 years ago.
But those days are mostly gone. The Sweden Democrats’ anti-immigration, anti-EU agenda resonates with millions of ordinary people and recent events have angered millions of citizens who fear that the 165,000 refugees who’ve settled in the country are refusing to integrate.
Tobias Andersson agrees. At 22, the leader of the party’s youth wing will likely become a lawmaker next month. Andersson joined the Sweden Democrats at 16, attracted by its tough stance on criminal justice.
But he becomes most animated when discussing immigration, which he said is “bad in every way possible.”
Immigration aside, the party wants to limit abortion and increase defense spending. It opposes Sweden’s membership in the European Union and has expressed skepticism about man-made climate change.
Even sympathetic voices accept that Sweden was unprepared for the immigrant incomers of 2015. Tightened borders slowed that to a trickle. Now the debate centers around integration.
The Sweden Democrats promoted their vision of national culture by hosting traditional activities including lessons in schottis, a 19th-century dance.
“It’s taken us perhaps 1,000 years to become what we are today,” Jomshof said.
It is significant that this article barely mentioned that just two days ago, more than 100 cars were torched in several Swedish cities. This is perhaps the defining event of the election coming up. But it is also proof that refugees are a law and order problem and that ordinary Swedes fear that too much accommodation with the newcomers will destroy their culture.
Whether that’s true or not, people believe it. And politicians who don’t listen to the voters usually end up looking for another job. But socialists apparently won’t sully their hands working with the Sweden Democrats:
Analysts say this refocused the election debate on immigration and helped the Sweden Democrats.
But even if they win most seats next month, they may not gain power. Governments here rule by coalition; the other parties have suggested that they would not ally with their far-right colleagues.
Nevertheless, like supporters of Trump and Britain’s Brexit before them, many Swedish populists see this as their moment.
“It’s the election of our destiny, if that’s the right word?” said Penila Johansson, 46, a forklift truck driver from Gothenburg at the festival. “Yes, it’s going to decide our destiny.”
Like the AfD in Germany, the French National Front, and the Dutch Party for Freedom, the Sweden Democrat party is likely to have limited power in government despite their popularity relative to other “mainstream” parties. How long can the Euro-establishment keep the lid on the passions of ordinary voters? Probably as long as they can manipulate the media and try and silence the voices calling for change.