(Source: The Hill) The Sweden Democrats party was founded by neo-Nazis and skinheads in the 1980s. Today, the rebranded and reformed nationalist party stands on the edge of unprecedented influence.
The far-right party, led by Jimmie Akesson, campaigned on sharply reducing immigration, particularly among Muslims and non-Europeans.
Following a weekend election held amid fears of rising crime, the anti-immigration party is the now second-most popular party in the Scandinavian country.
The development is the latest global example of a political force once widely deemed socially unacceptable moving into the political mainstream.
Vowing to put “Sweden first” and to “make Sweden good again,” the slogans of party leader Jimmie Akesson echo those that have resonated with ex-President Donald Trump’s supporters in the United States.
Its surge has energized right-wing forces in Europe as they eye further gains against the left.
“Let this be an omen and model for the rest of Europe,” said a tweet from the European Conservatives and Reformists party, whose president is Giorgia Meloni, leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy party.
In 10 days, Italians will elect a new Parliament in balloting that, if opinion polls prove right, could see Meloni triumph as part of a center-right electoral alliance and even possibly become Italy’s premier.
Steve Bannon, Trump’s longtime ally, also hailed the Sweden Democrats’ surge on his “War Room” podcast, calling the shift to the right in traditionally progressive Sweden a “political earthquake.” He praised the Sweden Democrats because “they want their borders, they want their sovereignty.”
- Bannon described Sweden as a destroyed society — a right-wing trope that exaggerates the scale of Sweden’s challenges.
Sweden is for the most part a prosperous and thriving European Union member, though many have been shaken by shootings and gang-related violence. Some, though not all, of the rising violence, has taken place in largely immigrant neighborhoods.
The populist party’s strong showing was confirmed Wednesday evening, three days after a vote so close that the final result had to wait for postal and other outstanding votes to be counted.