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On Election Day, the Swedes Disappoint

For much of this summer, and right up until September 9 -- Election Day in Sweden -- media around the world predicted that voters in that country would switch, in massive numbers, to the Sweden Democrats, the much-maligned and, until recently, very marginal anti-Islam party. “Swedish politics,” reported Reuters on September 5, “are set to lurch to the right in Sunday's election.” On September 8, a Daily Mail columnist explained why “the most liberal country in Europe” was “lurching to the Far Right.”

I wanted to believe it, but it sounded too good to be true. In the end, alas, it was. The Sweden Democrats won 18% of the vote. Yes, it marked yet another increase in support for a party that's grown steadily since the turn of the century (2002: 1.4%; 2006: 2.9%; 2010: 5.7%; 2014: 12.9%). Yes, the long -- dominant Social Democrats -- who are the main culprits behind Sweden's disastrously high immigration levels and its systematic prioritization of immigrant welfare over the well-being of native Swedes -- had their worst results since 1911. And yes, the Sweden Democrats, long surrounded by a cordon sanitaire, may end up being able to throw some weight around when the new government is formed.

But in the final analysis, it was a disappointment. Time is of the essence. Sweden is on the brink. Its people don't have decades to wait before changing course. In the view of many, this was their last chance.

Hopes for a Swedish electoral revolution may have been inflated, in large part, because of the encouraging results of last year's elections in Austria and the March 4 vote in Italy, which put into power a coalition government that pledged to control illegal immigration -- and that has since turned away ships packed with migrants. (The other day, when chided by an UN official for this practice, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini suggested that the UN “look for racism elsewhere” and “investigate its member States who ignore basic rights like freedom and equality between men and women.”)

But so far, in Western Europe, Austria and Italy have been flukes. Take the Netherlands. Some of us can remember cheering on the 2002 candidacy of Pim Fortuyn, whose brilliant and charismatic arguments for his strongly anti-Islam and anti-immigration platform seemed destined to win him the prime ministership – and put him in a position to start a chain reaction of sensible reform across Western Europe. Nine days before the election, he was assassinated. Sixteen years later, the Netherlands is nowhere near recovering the crucial ground lost since his death. In last year's election, Geert Wilders's Freedom Party won 13% of the vote, up from 2006 (6%) but down from 2010 (15%). The Forum for Democracy, a new party, run by Thierry Baudet, that also serves up blunt talk about Islam and immigration, won 1.8% last year. No revolution there yet.