It is indeed weird seeing the difference in response to the Corona-virus in Denmark and Sweden … in DK the military guards the border, schools are closed, emergency measures and shutdowns everywhere
… in Sweden people are queuing up to go in droves to our local skisports resort, the schools are open, gatherings with hundreds of people are allowed to take place, nobody knows the number of infected as they have officially stopped testing anyone but the most obvious cases – and so, life goes on unaffected
Well at first glance it could simply be a weak government afraid of missteps in Sweden. Thus trying the easiest path past the problems, avoiding blame and responsibility. Could be.
If I had my sinister conspiracy theory glasses on I might start guessing at way worse reasons for slow, incompetent, insufficient responses and a complete lack of governmental leadership … but hey, it might turn out that Denmark (and most other countries) overreacted and the menace will be gone in a couple of weeks….could be.
Anyway, if it all goes wrong theres fish in the river and deer in the forestRead more
Far Right Rise In Europe. Europe is seeing a wave of far right parties getting their breakthrough with voters primarily based on anti-immigration policies, nationalism and anti-EU sentiments usually. The far right rise in Europe is seen more or less across the continent. Inside the European union and outside.
Almost every European country has seen a far right, dirty right or fascist party getting an electoral breakthrough in recent years. The wave of far right populism is carried by anti-immigration policies beyond anything else. Fueled by the fear of Al-Queeda, terror and ISIS. Driven by the crisis of the EU in general and refugee streams in particular.
Far Right Parties In Europe
All of those parties should not be considered equal in nature or policies. Merely part of the same wave of far right populism in Europe. Golden Dawn and the Slovak National Party are actual (roughly) examples of self declared nazi-parties whereas lots of the others try and maintain a veil of mainstream reasonableness, while pursuing far right agendas.
Far Right Parties in Greece: Golden Dawn. An actual national socialist party in Greek politics. They march under fascist banners. plays a Greek version of the Horst Vessel song at rallies and have armed gangs of thugs attacking political opponents, immigrants and refugees. Several members of parliament and the entire leadership of Golden Dawn have spent much of the last couple of years in jail following a judicial crackdown. The crackdown came after a Golden Dawn activist killed a political opponent.
Golden Dawn peaked at around 20% in the polls, but have dropped off to around 12-14% after their legal problems. Golden Dawn was the first nazi party since world war II to win seats in an European election. They currently hold hold 18 seats in the Greek parliament and several seats in the European parliament.
Far Right Parties in France: Front National. An old player on the far right scene is the French anti-immigration and anti-EU party Front National. The far right nationalists are democrats and do not officially subscribe to fascism or nazism. They were led by legendary leader Jean Marie Le Pen for decades, but received their final electoral breakthrough in recent years after his daughter Marine Le Pen took over leadership of the party.
Front National made it to the final round of the presidential elections but ultimately lost. They have however won several local and parliamentary elections and have mayors in multiple French cities, seats in the European Parliament and such.
Far Right Parties in Denmark: Danish Peoples Party and New Right. The Danes are a bit nicer about far right populism than most of the other European nations. The Danish Peoples Party (Dansk Folkeparti) actively weed out party members stating positions too radical in nature publicly and the party acted as backers of the Anders Fogh-Rasmussen government from 2001 till 2011.
Dansk Folkeparti is nationalistic, anti-EU and anti immigration but they go to great lengths not to come across as extremists. They sugar over the more hardline stances with strong support for Israel, demands for better public services to the elderly and the fight for the little man against the system the Danes so enjoy. Currently the Danish Peoples Party have shot up to 20% support at elections and could become the biggest party in Denmark according to current opinion polls.
Far Right Parties in Sweden: Sweden Democrats (a feature on them: Sweden and The Refugee Crisis )
Far Right Parties in Finland: True Finns. The true Finns are very similar to the Danish Peoples Party and Swedish Democrats, must be a Scandinavian thing. They muster strong support for a closed-borders policy and anti EU campaigning.
The True Finns gained approximately 18% of the vote at the latest general election in Finland but are currently polling somewhat below that on average.
Far Right Parties in Germany: Alternative For Germany (a feature on them: Far Right Breakthrough in German Politics)
Far Right Parties in Hungary: Jobbik is about as close as we get to a fascist party without it actually itself as such. They declare themselves radically nationalist, anti-establishment, anti-immigration, antisemitic and of course anti-EU. The visuals of Jobbik make them look like a classic fascist or nazi party with parades of uniformed supporters waving flags looking suspiciously like versions of the Swastika.
Jobbik scored a massive 21% of the vote in the latest Hungarian elections and have become a force to be reckoned with. Not only in the streets. But in parliament too. As the far right rise in Europe goes Jobbik is one of the more extreme parties in the same category as the Slovak National Party and Golden Dawn.
Far Right Parties in Slovakia: Kotleba – People’s Party Our Slovakia and The Slovak National Party (Slovenská národná strana – can be translated as the Slovak Peoples Party too it seems) openly declares itself nationalist and socialist. They have the classic far right and outright fascist stances. They use the traditional fascist symbolism of uniformed political rallies, flags and marching.
After the 2016 elections in Slovakia the Slovak National Party entered into coalition government after coming in as the 4th biggest party. SNS has been riding the wave of far right rise in Europe but has not managed to reach 10% of the vote in Slovakia in the past 25 years. They have however gained more direct influence than most European far right parties by entering and supporting coalition governments in return for political influence.
Far Right Parties in the United Kingdom: The traditional far right party in the UK is the British National Party, BNP, they have never achieved wider support in the electorate or gained seats in parliament. In recent years a new form of right wing populism has been seen from Nigel Farage and his UKIP party. They are most certainly among the softer of the far right parties in Europe with far fewer authoritarian elements.
UKIP would have gained an electoral breakthrough more or less anywhere else in Europe. Nigel Farage secured 12,6% of the vote in the latest general election in the UK and a stunning 27,5% in the 2014 European Parliament elections. The European Parliament result is a consequence of UKIP being the only mainstream party in the UK opposing further EU integration. Whilst the 27,5% result secured UKIP a strong platform in the European parliament they still have not achieved electoral success in general elections in the UK. The reason is simple. A non-proportional electoral system. Their latest election result would have secured Ukip 60-80 seats elsewhere in Europe in a proportional system, but in the UKs first past the post electoral system it was only enough to win a single seat. Party leader Nigel Farage even failed to secure a seat for himself.
Several other far right groupings exist in the UK such as offspring’s of Pegida, the English Defence League. But none of them have achieved wider appeal.
Other Far Right Parties in Europe
The above walk-through of political parties with radical far right platforms in Europe is far from comprehensive.
We could have examined Brothers of Italy and Lega Nord in Italy. The Austrian Freedom Party. Order and Justice from Lithuania. Vlaams Belang (Flemish Nationalist Party) in Belgium. The Party For Freedom from Holland. The SPD (Freedom and Direct Democracy Party) of the Czech Republic. The examples are basically endless.
The new thing is not the amount of radical parties though. Both extreme flanks have always been covered. The new thing is the width of support for anti-immigration, anti-establishment and anti-EU sentiments that has led to the far right rise in Europe.
Far Right Rise In Europe
The Anti-Immigration Wave over Europe have provided wind in the sails for the populist right across the continent. Clearly, attacks reminiscent of those in Brussels and Paris will increase the support for all of those far right parties. The same might be stated for the refugee crisis on the whole.
The individual far right parties across Europe tend to mix a few general themes with locally tailored populist positions. In Sweden the right to shoot wolves. In Denmark a ban on animal sex. In the UK a repeal of smoking bans in pubs. In Hungary strong anti-Roma policies. It all depends on the local area. The common denominator is local political populism.
On top of the local issues most of the far right parties in Europe share positions on a range of issues:
- Closed Borders / Stop to all immigration
- Deportation of immigrants and refugees
- Anti Turkey joining the EU
- Anti EU in general
- Anti Islam / Islamism
- Pro restoration of national culture, independence and pride
- Anti freedom of movement within the EU
- Anti government and establishments
- Better service for the elderly and veterans
- Lower / No foreign aid
A policy issue such as the future of Israel on the hand divide the populist right-wing parties. Several of the Eastern European far right parties are more or less classic antisemitic, whereas for instance the Danish Peoples Party is strongly pro-Israel.
Same Populist Wave As Donald Trump in the US ?
Several people have asked if the right wing trends, the populism and the anti immigration stances of European populist parties are in fact part of the same populist wave that has brought the rise of Donald Trump in the US. We have looked at the question Is Donald Trump A Fascist previously. But. We haven’t explored it in detail yet and as such it is only fair to give an as of yet unsubstantiated opinion:
Yes. At first look. It does appear to be the same issues. The same form of rhetoric. The same segments of voters. The same economic conditions. Similar problems used to propel the arguments. But if it holds up to closer scrutiny is not yet certain. That will have to wait till another time. The Far Right Rise In Europe is a fact. So is the rise of Trump. They look similar.Read more
Sweden is known as one of the most stable and uneventful democracies in the western world. For decades the country has maintained a Scandinavian welfare state model based on high taxes and low income inequality. The center-left Social democrats have been the giant in Swedish politics for as long as anyone care to remember, however only minor adjustments have been made politically doing intermittent periods when the center-right Moderates have managed to take power in the cold northern European country stretching up beyond the arctic circle.
Neighboring countries refer to Sweden as the definition of politically correct, as the land of the forbidden and similar. It all boils down to a political system in which everyone has had a basic consensus about priorities, agendas and economic policies.
Swedish Corrosion of Consensus
New winds are blowing over Sweden and the political system however. An ever increasing pressure on the borders from refugees during the last few years have seemingly corroded the long lasting consensus about the fundamentals.
The Social Democrats won the latest general election on September 14. At least on paper. New party leader Stefan Löfven was elected prime minister after receiving support from 31% of the voters for his party. The Social Democratic government is further backed by normal alliance partners the Miljöpartiet (The Green Party, an environmentalist left leaning party), further left wing democratic socialists of Vänsterpartiet (the Left Party) and the Feminist Party (yes, they have a feminist party in Sweden), though the latter failed to gain any seats in parliament.
This time around however the Social Democrats, the Green Party and the Left Party failed to gain a majority in parliament. Normally that would spell a period of ministerial seats for the center-right alliance consisting of the centrist conservative party Moderaterne (the Moderates) led by former primeminister Fredrik Löfkvist at the time, the conservative Christian Democratic Party, the agrarian liberal Center Party and the classic economic liberals of The Liberal Party.
Not this time! The center-right coalition chose to hand the prime minister-ship to the Social Democrats in return for collaboration, some would say control over, on economic matters. An unprecedented abstention from power. What led to it? The Swedish Democrats!
Electoral Breakthrough of The Swedish Democrats
The Swedish Democrats would likely have backed a center-right government given the alternatives. But the center right parties preferred being in opposition when faced with that or Swedish Democrat influence on their policies. Why? Because the Swedish Democrats is part of the so-called dirty right or far right wave that has been sweeping Europe in recent years.
The policy of Swedish Democrats is classic far-right populism. They demand a complete stop to acceptance of asylum seekers first and foremost. According to the Swedish Democrats special rights for minorities such as the Sami people must be revoked. Legal penalties must be significantly heightened to include the possibility of life without parole. Anti-EU sentiments are integral to the nationalist tone of the Swedish Democrats who among other things reject the EURO, oppose Turkish membership of the EU and demand renegotiations of Swedish membership.
On top of the normal far-right anti-immigration, nationalistic, anti-EU and tough on crime stances the Swedish Democrats have several locally tailored political messages as well such as lower taxes for Swedish elderlies, allowing hunters to shoot wolves and much more besides.
In the general scheme of things the Swedish Democrats are thus a far-right party along the lines of French Front National, German Alternative For Germany, the Danish Peoples Party, the Austrian Freedom Party, the True Finns and many more besides.
Significance of The Swedish Democrats
There are far-right parties on the fringe all over Europe. What is the significance of the Swedish Democrats ?
First and foremost they are an abrupt and complete break with the normal running of things politically in Sweden. The debate is usually incredibly civil, politically correct and cautious. Not so with boisterous Swedish Democrats. They yell what few others even dared to think until recently. Secondly the political topics thrown on the table by SD signify a break with all consensus policies on immigration, asylum seekers, EU and much more besides.
This is something entirely unseen hitherto in Swedish politics. Few political leaders seemingly have a clue how to deal with it or respond to it either. So far the establishments on both sides of the aisle have tried to simply silencing the unwanted voice by attempting to exclude them from debates, not joining in discussions raised by SD and keeping them from power by the two usually competing sides joining to keep them from influence.
The Swedish Democrats became the third largest party with 12,9% of the vote. In itself a fairly limited success one would think. However it gave them the swing seats between the two traditional blocks in Swedish politics. Thus creating a necessity for unity across the aisle to keep them from power.
Preserving Status Quo in Swedish Politics ?
The efforts to preserve a status quo by all establishment parties has so far proved a boomerang. Prime minister Stefan Löfven has labelled the Swedish Democrats neo-fascist. All parties have refused to debate them, enter into any deals or coalitions with them locally or in the national parliament. In short: They have been sidelined completely.
The effect? They have been handed the gift being able to portray themselves as victims of political oppression. As the ultimate anti-establishment party daring to voice the truth covered over by the mainstream parties.
The voters reactions? They are flocking to the Swedish Democrats like never before. Polling is often showing the Swedish Democrats as the largest party in Sweden come the next election with an opinion polling peak of staggering 28.8%. The average of polls have them closer to 20-22% making them a likely second party in Sweden, but it still raises serious questions.
Can a party with perhaps a quarter of the vote be kept away from influence continuously ? If they were, would they simply keep growing ? Are the established political parties particularly from the center-right block gonna start making overtures to the far-right Swedish Democrats in order to regain power themselves ? Or are they instead gonna attempt stemming the tide by moving their own policy positions closer to those of SD ?
Time will tell. For now. Nobody seems to have a viable strategy for stopping the wave of far-right populism from the Swedish Democrats. Most even seem scared to try. Swedish politics have been upended by the refugee crisis. It remains to be seen how much political capital the Swedish Democrats will muster on the coattails of the crisis. For now. They have upper hand. The momentum.
UPDATE: Latest Swedish Opinion Polls
The latest opinion polling data in Sweden. It paints the picture described above. Sverige Demokraterne peaks at 28.8% but are generally in the low 20s. Neither side look like they have any chance of forming a working majority government without the Swedish DemocratsRead more