Sweden election: How an ex neo-Nazi movement became kingmakers

Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Akesson delivers a speech to supporters following Sunday’s vote

More than one in five Swedes voted for the radical anti-immigration Sweden Democrats (SD) party in elections on Sunday.

Since it is currently the second-largest political party in the nation, its estimated 73 MPs are likely to play a significant role in supporting the right-wing coalition in power, if not hold a formal position in the government itself.
It would be the first time the nationalist party had any contact with Stockholm’s executive branch.
The SD’s platform has never before been so central to Swedish mainstream politics thanks to the election campaign’s emphasis on issues related to immigration and violent crime.
A party formed by Nazi sympathizers, ostracized for decades by the mainstream, is suddenly poised to play a kingmaking role in a nation better recognized for its stable and predictable politics. This is a watershed moment for the party.
The SD received 20.6% of the votes cast on Sunday, according to the most recent election results, making it the largest of the right-wing parties that now hold a majority in parliament.
Johan Martinsson, a political scientist at the University of Gothenburg, told the BBC that “this is extraordinary given that they only entered parliament in 2010.”



“Sweden used to have an extremely stable and predictable political party system. Three elections later – and they are the second largest party,” he says.
The party is “mainly an anti-immigration, anti-multicultural, nationalist party,” according to Martinsson, who refrains from calling them a far-right organization.
Despite being founded in 1988, the SD struggled for 20 years to garner enough support to elect any MPs. However, the party has increased its share in three straight elections since joining parliament in 2010.
It had supplanted the Moderates as the most well-liked right-of-center party in the nation as of Sunday.
The outcomes, according to Martinsson, represent a “dividing line” in Swedish history.
Due to its success, there is a heated dispute over how much the party’s ideology has evolved during its transition from political outcast to power broker.
Jimmie Akesson, the party’s current leader, gained office in 2005 and has since announced a “zero-tolerance” policy against racism and extremism. In 2015, he even suspended the party’s whole youth section due to its ties to the far-right.
The party has also undergone a significant rebranding effort, dropping its “Keep Sweden Swedish” slogan and changing its flaming flame logo to a more innocent-looking flower.

RELATED: Anti-immigrant party helps defeat Sweden’s government


But despite these adjustments, the party continues to be accused of endangering Sweden’s minority groups.
The head of Sweden’s Committee Against Anti-Semitism, Willie Silberstein, is one of them. He has recently come under attack for publicly criticizing the SD in a televised interview, and as a result, he has become the focus of anti-Semitic remarks.
This is not an opinion; it is a statement of fact that the Committee has a problem with organizations that were created by Nazis, he told the BBC. “It speaks something about a party if it is so full of people who should be excluded because they are Nazis.”
He cites a widely circulated study from last month by the Acta Publica research group in Sweden, which claimed to have found 289 politicians from the major parties who had expressed opinions that might be construed as racist or even Nazi.
The vast majority of them – 214 – were members of SD.
“It scares me that they might have a big influence in Swedish politics,” he says. “I think of not only the Jewish minority, but of immigrants in general.”

RELATED: Magdalena Andersson: Swedish PM resigns as right-wing parties win vote


Party members’ tweets and social media posts—and occasionally even those of elected officials—continue to harm the party’s reputation.
Tobias Andersson, a 26-year-old MP who serves as SD’s legal spokeswoman, posted a photo of a Stockholm subway train that was painted in the party’s colors during the height of the election campaign.
Here is a one-way ticket; please go to Kabul. Welcome to the repatriation express, he added.
According to news agency AP, some Swedish critics criticized the tweet, but party chairman Akesson refused to apologize, claiming that it was meant to mock individuals who had been offended by the party’s posters.
The party disputes the racial accusations.
According to Emil Eneblad, deputy chair of the SD’s Young Swedes youth movement, “All that was before I was born.”
The 21-year-old activist told the BBC, “People accused us of awful things before the election, but I don’t think the fact that there were unscrupulous characters in the party 30 years ago has damaged our electoral position.”

RELATED: Immigration attitudes have barely changed – so why is far right on rise?


He asserts that the party’s support among young people nearly doubled in the election held on Sunday, a development he attributes to an emphasis on three problems in particular: safety, employment, and immigration.
He claims that young people are seeking something else.
Political scientist Johan Martinsson asserts that immigration-related concerns have been brewing for a while and notes that, over the past few years, Sweden has received among the greatest numbers of asylum seekers per capita worldwide.
This, together with a perceived spike in violent crime, may help to explain the surge in popularity for the SD, a party that has long advocated for both concerns and gained notoriety for asserting that they are inexorably related.



By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter

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