A line in the sand: Part 1 – Are the Sweden Democrats Far Right?

No country brings both a shiver of fear and a smug grin to the face of anyone in the anti-SJW sphere more than Sweden. Sweden is, in basic terms where cultural leftism failed. A proudly ‘feminist’ government and an open door policy to immigration from Islamic countries has left the country with many societal issues and embarrassing moments on social media. Sweden has forever been controlled by either the Christian Democrat centre right or the Social Democrat/Democratic Socialist centre-left. Power is simply rotated between the so called Red-Greens and the Blue Alliance. All this though, has started to change. In the 2014 General Election, The Sweden Democrats received 12.9% of the national vote and so 49 seats in the Riksdag: Sweden’s unicameral parliament. The Sweden Democrats are known as a ‘Far Right’ party, another part of Europe’s slowly growing Populist Nationalist movement. Since then, their vote share has grown even further in the polls and they look likely to become the second, maybe even first party in the polls. They have been rejected by the other parties and the political establishment as far right racists. But is that true? This article will look at both their past and what they believe now and give an opinion of that answer.

 

The Sweden Democrat Logo – Sverigedemokraterna.se 2014.

 

The Democrat’s history

The Sweden Democrats have a very mixed and controversial past. Far right and nationalist movements have always struggled in Sweden, with its generally extremely liberal, progressive and social democratic attitude. Open borders and anti-fascism and Nazism have long been ingrained in Swedish culture. This was until the 1980s when a sudden outburst of anti-immigration and sometimes racist fascist parties such as the successful; New Democracy and ‘Keep Sweden Swedish’ sprung onto the scene.

The Sweden Democrats evolved out of two of these far right parties; the so called ‘Keep Sweden Swedish’ and the Swedish Progress Party. It is safe to say that in those days, claims that the party was racist certainly had a lot of truth behind them. They were affiliated with openly racist movements and members who had been convicted of hate crimes. Since then though the party has gone through multiple waves of modernisation and liberalisation under previous party leader: Mikael Jansson and current leader: Jimmie Akesson. Throughout the 90s and 2000s, all of the extreme elements were either expelled or were forced to split from the party on their own accord, in an effort to make the main messages of the party more palatable for the Swedish general public. Uniforms were banned throughout the party and the International Declaration of Human Rights was declared a cornerstone of the party. The departure of the National Democrats was possibly the most important factor that allowed the party to move on.

Mikael Jannson: the party’s previous leader, talks about the positives of Donald Trump for Europe – Sverige Radio, 2016.

 

Their Policies

So what are these beliefs? Obviously, the most famous area of concern is immigration policy and that of national sovereignty and culture. The Party has always generally believed in massive restrictions to immigration into Sweden. The Democrats believe that Sweden’s policy of open door immigration and multiculturalism has been a bad thing for the nation. It seeks to protect Swedish culture and society from what it sees as forces looking to threaten this; namely the culture and traditions that Muslim immigrants bring with them. SD policy is that the government should support immigrants wishing to return home and not integration for everyone. These are issues almost totally ignored by the other Parties of Sweden, and the Sweden Democrats are seen as racist by many for doing so. It is important to note that 14% of SD members are immigrants, the same as the general population.

The Party proudly nationalist in attitude. It is their belief that Swedish culture and traditions should reign supreme in Sweden. They are critical of the special privileges given to the native Sami people, including the Sami parliament, they wish for a revival of historic Swedish culture and festivals, and are very much pro-elderly. The party supports the traditional ‘nuclear’ family and has a very hazy, almost hypocritical view on homosexuality; on one hand believing homosexual couples should not be able to adopt, and then on the other believing that they must be protected from the bigotry of Islam. On foreign issues, the Sweden Democrats wish to renegotiate Sweden’s relationship with the EU; letting themselves have more economic freedom and have more control over their own borders. This separates them from many other nationalist movements across Europe who wish their nations to fully leave the Union. The SDs do not believe in anthropogenic climate change, saying that Sweden is already pulling more than its weight on environmental issues, this has also been a huge point of contention with more liberal and progressive leaning parties. On economics, the party seem to be less interested. Overall, when you look at their manifesto, they do appear to be reasonably centrist, with Tax cuts for small businesses and a focus on free trade but a maintenance of a large publicly owned welfare state.

 

Jimmie Åkesson: current leader, talks about increasing sick leave – Aftonbladet, 2015.

 

Conclusion

The term ‘Far right’ is very ambiguous one. Does it mean economics or being conservative, or being nationalist? It is most often associated with ultra-nationalism and very conservative views. On this basis, I believe it is safe to say that though they were in the past, the Sweden Democrats are no longer far right. They are economically centrist and hold understandable views on immigration given the political history and climate in Sweden. The only areas where they hold views that centrists have real problems are on not giving equal rights to homosexuals and in disbelief in climate change. And though these things might rightly drive some liberals away, they certainly do not deserve the reputation they have. But what does any of this mean? Will they ever achieve power? Will the other parties ever allow them into power? This I will look at in the second half of this article.

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