The final outcome of the Swedish elections may still be unknown, but we already know who the big winners are: Sweden’s democratic nationalists.
Long ostracized from the political mainstream because of their roots in the neo-Nazi movement, Sweden’s anti-immigration Democrats are now the largest right-wing opposition party, holding a slim lead over the ruling left-wing bloc with a Full preliminary result only due Wednesday.
A word was on the lips of many Swedish Democrat MPs who spoke to the Financial Times at a rowdy party on Sunday night on the outskirts of Stockholm. “It’s revenge,” said Henrik Vinge, deputy chef.
Linus Bylund, his chief of staff, added: “It’s revenge because the other parties have treated us badly – even the three [rightwing] left on our side. But time passes and time heals.
If the right-wing bloc wins, Sweden’s Democrats are set to gain influence nationally for the first time in the country, leaving only Germany, France and Belgium with a so-called cordon sanitaire around their parties. far right. The current gap with the ruling left-wing coalition is just 47,000 votes, equivalent to the size of an average constituency seat.
Since bringing Sweden’s Democrats out of the cold over the past two years by allying with them on issues such as crime and immigration, the dominant centre-right bloc has said it wouldn’t want nationalists in government, but simply as a support party in parliament.
But Sweden’s Democrats are likely to make even more demands now that they appear to have won more votes than Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson’s Moderates to become the second largest party. About 94% of the votes have already been counted, with the centre-left Social Democrats continuing their record of first place in every election since 1917.
“We would like to enter government,” said Richard Jomshof, party secretary. “There is a lot of pressure from our constituents. I’m not sure they would agree to be outside the government. He even suggested that the party could claim the post of prime minister, which the three centre-right parties in a possible coalition are unlikely to accept.
The Swedish Democrats have their base in southern Sweden, the entry point for most immigrants and known for its deadly shootings in the city of Malmö.
It also means the party knows well the fate of its sister group just across the Øresund Strait. The Danish People’s Party shocked the establishment in Copenhagen in 2015 by becoming the largest right-wing group but refused to enter government. He has since been all but wiped out in opinion polls in Denmark as voters appear to have punished the party for refusing to take office as the centre-left stole many of its policies.
“The biggest mistake of the Danish People’s Party was that it never dared to take an active part in government. We want to do this. I am not here for the good of Swedish democrats. I want to change things in Sweden,” Jomshof said.
Sweden’s Democrats caused shock waves when they first entered parliament in 2010. Political stability has been increasingly elusive since then, with major parties trying to deny them influence.
Social Democrat Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson was forced to govern twice with a right-wing coalition, resigned after just seven hours on the job late last year and was only saved by a Swedish-Kurdish MP which then nearly derailed the country’s bid to join NATO.
Kristersson, whose moderate party has lost ground despite promises to tackle crime and immigration, has sought to cast himself as a potential prime minister, saying he will try to unite the nation as it unfolds move closer to NATO membership and take over the EU presidency on 1 January.
But he faces a real struggle to cobble together a viable coalition if the results are confirmed. A one-seat majority would test his ability to reconcile Swedish Liberals and Democrats.
Anders Borg, a moderate former finance minister, said he believed there would be a right-wing government. “On critical issues like migration, tax policy, energy and investment, I don’t think the differences will be that huge,” he said.
Borg, whose wife is of Jewish descent, played down fears about the Swedish Democrats’ roots, saying they were now a ‘centre-right party’, adding: ‘I don’t think people are so worried . Sweden will be the same.
The Swedish Democrats would join other anti-immigration parties in the Nordic region to gain influence, after the Progress Party entered government in Norway and the True Finns in Finland. But neither had their origins in a movement quite like ‘Keep Sweden Swedish’.
Nationalists say they are ready for power, pointing to their experience in Sölvesborg, a small southern town where a party member was mayor and where they increased their vote share on Sunday by 10 percentage points.
They believe they are also reaping the benefits of having consistently warned that Sweden’s immigration policies – among the most generous in Europe until a crackdown on arrivals from 2015 – would lead to increased crime .
“Consistency helps. This is a trustworthy company. Since we are conservatives, our voters count on our solidity. We are the party that has changed the least over the past 20 years,” Bylund said.
As their party’s techno beats faded on Sunday, the euphoria remained for Sweden’s Democrats, on the cusp of national influence for the first time. Jomshof said: “It’s an incredible stage. For the first time, we are a legitimate partner in a new government. We are no longer alone. »
Sweden’s anti-immigrant Democrats celebrate election gains