Sweden Faces Hung Parliament as Far Right Movement Gains Group

Sweden’s far-right party, the Sweden Democrats, gained nearly 18 percent of votes in general election. Thus making the Sweden Democrats, an anti-immigration nationalist party, the second largest in parliament. According to The Irish Times, the Social Democrats, Sweden’s once dominated party fell to 28.4 percent, its lowest level of support in a century. Meanwhile, the Sweden Democrats won 17.6 percent and 63 seats. This is an increase since the last election, four years ago, where they had won 12.9 percent and 49 seats. According to Al-Jazeera, the nationalist Sweden Democrats vowed to exert “real influence” as kingmaker after emerging as the third-largest political force in one of Europe’s most liberal nations. The Sweden Democrats want Sweden to leave the European Union and freeze immigration. In response to the election results, Swedish Prime Minister and Social Democrats leader, Stefan Lofven, has urged the opposition parties to have talks aimed at “cross-bloc cooperation” after the Social Democrats party failed to gain a majority in Sunday’s elections. According to The Irish Times, anticipating weeks of difficult negotiations ahead, Prime Minister Lofven vowed to “weld together” parties from previously opposing blocs to form a stable new government.,

In regard to the election results, Prime Minister Lofven said, “no one party can bring Sweden further, all serious parties have responsibility to bring Sweden further, we have to bring good forces together to form a new government.” He also added “We have a moral responsibility. We must gather all good forces. We won’t mourn, we will organize ourselves.” Although the results are shocking and threaten the current political status quo in Sweden, there is still hope that Prime Minister Lofven can cooperate with other opposition parties in order to keep their influence in parliament greater than that of the Sweden Democrats. According to Al-Jazeera, Lofven told his supporters late on Sunday that the election presented “a situation that all responsible parties must deal with,” and added that the Sweden Democrats, “a party with roots in Nazism, would never offer anything but hatred.” During that same time, Sweden Democrats’ leader, Jimmie Akesson, addressed his supporters saying, “we have strengthened our role as kingmaker … We are going to gain real influence over Swedish politics.” In addition, Mattias Karlsson, Sweden Democrats’ parliamentary leader, said “the leaders of the two big parties, the Social Democrats and the Moderate party, need to listen to this signal from the Swedish people, need to change the policies that the Swedish people want to see.”

According to Al-Jazeera, Sweden has been known for its comparatively open doors to migrants and refugees. In 2015 alone, the Swedish government allowed 163,000 asylum seekers into the country. According to Independent, this number was far lower than the asylum-seekers Germany accepted that same year, but the highest per capita of any European nation. This caused considerable unrest to Sweden’s nationalists who believed that allowing 163,000 asylum seekers into a country of population 10 million was unacceptable. Although asylum procedures have been tightened since then, according to Independent, it has stoked fears over security and integration, and increased existing concerns about the burden on the welfare state. Thus, a lot of the shift towards Sweden Democrats’ ideology was caused, in part, by the anti-immigration sentiment that has arose in Sweden and Europe for the past few years. By giving seats to the Sweden Democrats, one could expect to see a drastic change in immigration policy. Once the Sweden Democrats enter into negotiations and begin influencing policies, it is possible that there will be a massive reduction in immigration, if it is not completely banned.

Anti-immigration sentiment rose drastically in the past few years, in Europe and the United States alike. In addition, more nationalist and conservative ideologies have found their way into the political sphere and have influenced much of the election results we have been seeing. Sweden seems to be going through a similar shift in moral and political ideals. Nationalism and anti-immigration sentiments have been given a platform in Swedish politics and until Prime Minister Lofven can unite the remaining opposition to form a new government that gives the Sweden Democrats minimal influence, we could expect to see rising support for the Sweden Democrats.