Final results update scroll down to our election preview for background on the Sweden Democrats’ nazi roots and racism
The fascist Sweden Democrat party has sharply increased its vote in today’s Swedish general election – from 12.9% in 2014 to 17.6% today – after a campaign built on vicious racist scapegoating.
Just eight years ago the Sweden Democrat fascists were on 5.7% and were one of a handful of small parties. Since then its vote has tripled and now it is a genuine third party, holding the balance of power – this is very fast and dangerous growth.
The fascist party has also been increasingly shaping the wider political agenda, pushing racism particularly against immigrants and Muslims.
The Sweden Democrats came in as the third largest party but both the main traditional parties of centre-left and centre-right lost ground. The steep decline of the once dominant centre-left Social Democrat party has continued at this election.
Opinion polls ahead of the election suggested the Sweden Democrats might take second place, but despite them missing that mark, no one should be in doubt that these are very good results indeed for the fascist party – its vote has surged upwards.
It has now cemented a place as a serious player in parliament, where neither of two main blocs of centre-left and centre-right can form a majority government. They stand almost at neck and neck – and the Sweden Democrats will hold a potentially decisive vote on key issues.
The gains of the fascist party will give confidence not just to its own cadres and activists but to the far right across Europe.
With all the votes counted, the results were:
Social Democrats (centre-left) 28.4%
Moderates (centre-right) 19.8%
Sweden Democrats (fascist) 17.6%
Centre party 8.6%
Left party (radical left) 7.9%
Christian Democrats 6.4%
With 83% of the vote counted, the results so far are:
Social Democrats (centre-left) 28.2%
Moderates (centre-right) 19.7%
Sweden Democrats (fascist) 17.7%
Centre party 8.6%
Left party (radical left) 8.0%
Christian Democrats 6.4%
The graphic above shows where the fascist Sweden Democrats have gained their increase in the vote. It is based on the SVT exit poll survey (see 7.30pm update below).
It shows that just over half the Sweden Democrat vote came from people who backed the party last time round. But its vote has jumped due to sizeable defections from the mainstream centre-left Social Democrats (19% of Sweden Democrats’ 2018 vote)) and centre-right Moderates (18%). The fascists are succeeding in tapping into disaffection with both the main tradional parties.
UPDATE 9.10pm, Sunday 9 September (Scroll down for our election preview and analysis)
With half the votes now counted, the fascist Sweden Democrats are on 17.9%, in third place behind the centre-left Social Democrats with 28.1% and the centre-right Moderates on 19.3%.
The Sweden Democrats’ vote so far is in between the two exit poll predictions, but it looks to have massively boosted its vote with almost half as many votes again as it took in 2014 when it scored 12.9%.
The radical Left party has 8.1%, the Centre party 8.8%, the Christian Democrats have 6.4%, the Liberals 5.4% and the Greens are on 4.4% – only just over the 4% threshhold for parliamentary seats.
UPDATE 7.30pm, Sunday 9 September (Scroll down for our election preview and analysis)
The fascist Sweden Democrats have taken 19.2% of the vote and is in second place, an exit poll for the broadcaster SVT shows.
It also shows the centre-left Social Democrats on 26.2% – at the head of the polls but with its lowest result since 1908.
If the exit poll is accurate, the result is a huge one for the fascists – a massive rise from 12.9% in 2014.
According to the SVT poll, the centre right bloc of the Moderates (in third place on 17.8%) and its allies is marginally ahead of the centre-left bloc grouped around the Social Democrats, on 39.6% compared with the centre-left’s 39.4%. This means the likely shape of the Swedish government is far too close to call.
But the strong vote for the Sweden Democrats – if reflected in the final result – will enormously strengthen the fascists’ position and allow them to portray themselves as the real opoposition to the traditional mainstream parties.
It is worth noting that a different exit poll, by TV4/Sifos, shows the Sweden Democrats with a lower vote of 16.3% in third place. But this would still be a sharp rise on the fascist party’s score at the last election – and a very dangerous level of growth.
Whatever the actual election results turn out to be, this has been a very good election for the fascists and will give a new boost top the far right across Europe.
PREVIEW AND ANALYSIS
The fascist Sweden Democrats party is set to make dramatic gains in Sunday’s general election – in which it could take second place with around 20% of the vote.
Despite the party’s name, this is not a party for “democrats” but one with nazi roots – as we explain below. Its gains are also giving confidence to smaller groups of fascist street fighters.
And the expected gains for the Sweden Democrats follow the rise of fascist and far right parties across Europe. Italy and Austria now have governments including far right racist parties, while the far right has been consolidating its power in countries such as Hungary and Poland.
A Scandinavian far right block is also developing with the Sweden Democrats’ gains mirroring those of Norway’s racist Progress Party, the Danish People’s Party and the Finns party of Finland.
Opinion polls in the run-up to Sweden’s election show the Sweden Democrats hovering around the 20% mark, behind the centre-left Social Democrats and ahead of Sweden’s other main party, the centre-right Moderates. A couple of polls have even put the Sweden Democrats in first place.
If the strong polling figures are borne out on election day this will mark the second election running in which the Sweden Democrats have almost doubled their vote – it rose from 5.7% in 2010 to 12.9% in 2014.
The rise and rise of the Sweden Democrats has come alongside a fall in support for the traditional centre parties, with the Social Democratic party vote likely to be at a historic low of around 25%.
The centre-left party has seen a sharp decline in recent years. Between the mid-1920s and the mid-1990s the party scored over 40% in all but two general elections and spent decades in government. Its membership base has collapsed, from around a million people in the mid-1980s to 90,000 today.
Worst of all, it has lost ground even among trade union members. Sweden’s famed model of “welfare capitalism” and relative prosperity has taken a hit since the financial crash of 2008, while a series of “reforms” mean welfare and public spending have decreased as a proportion of GDP since the 1990s.
It is the poorest sections of an increasingly polarised society – where just one family, the Wallenburgs, control 40% of the stock exchange – who have been hit hardest. This has stirred up anger and bitterness, which the Sweden Democrats are seeking to steer in a racist direction.
The fascist party has also seized on the U-turn on migration by the ruling Social Democrats in 2015. Sweden had previously had a liberal policy towards refugees and other migrants, but the about turn saw a border control crackdown in November, legitimising the racist far right’s arguments that migrants were responsible for the country’s problems. This political collapse by the government only strengthened the Sweden Democrats.
The polarisation away from the centre parties has also seen the more radical Left party gain support – it is expected to take around 10%, almost double the 5.7% of the vote it gained in the 2014 election. But the far right is gaining most.
The Sweden Democrats party was formed as a white supremacist organisation in 1988, growing out of the racist Keep Sweden Swedish (Bevara Sverige Svenskt) network – it still uses this slogan. The party’s first leader, Anders Klarström was previously involved in the openly nazi Nordic Reich Party – he remained in charge until 1995.
Party auditor Gustaf Ekström was a veteran of Hitler’s Waffen-SS and in the 1940s was a member of Sweden’s own mirror to the German Nazi party, the Svensk Socialistisk Samling (formerly the Nationalsocialistiska Arbetarpartiet – the National Socialist Workers Party). The picture above shows this party campaigning in the 1936 election – note the swastikas.
In the mid-1990s the Sweden Democrats – like other European fascist parties – switched towards the “Eurofascist” strategy pioneered by Jean-Marie Le Pen’s Front National in France, cleaning up its image in a bid to win electoral respectability. Its new leader, Mikael Jansson imposed a ban on paramilitary or nazi-style uniforms and the party attempted to sweep its violent street thug supporters neatly out of sight.
In 2005, the party acquired its current leader Jimmie Åkesson who continued the Eurofascist modernisation. The party replaced its old logo – a version of the British National Front’s flaming torch symbol decked out in Swedish colours – with a pretty little blue and yellow flower.
But in 2013, two of the 2010 cohort of Sweden Democrat MPs – Erik Almqvist and Kent Ekeroth – were caught on video, tooled up with iron bars and hurling racist abuse at comedian Soran Ismail and another man.
Ekeroth is the man who invited “Alan Lake” – real name Alan Ayling – the wealthy businessman who was a key strategist of the English Defence League – to a conference in Malmö. Ekeroth turned up in London to speak in support of “Tommy Robinson”, the EDL’s former leader and international fascist posterboy, in July.
Building a base
The Sweden Democrats have built their base on vile racism directed mainly at immigrants and Muslims, especially targeting the refugees who arrived in 2015. Its influence has only been fed by concessions to anti-immigrant racism from the traditional centre parties.
Immigrants and Muslims are not the only targets, however. In June this year, Bjorn Soder, a Sweden Democrat MP and deputy speaker of the Swedish parliament declared on Facebook that Jews and members of the Sami indigenous minority were “not Swedes”.
And despite the party’s attempts to hide its deeply nazi past and present itself as a modern, electable party – following the “Eurofascist” strategy first pioneered by the Front National in France – repeated purges have still not removed all the sieg-heiling boot boys.
In the run-up to this election, the Expressen newspaper carried research backed by the antifascist Expo group, revealing that a slew of former members of the violent nazi National Socialist Front were included among the Sweden Democrats candidates in the parliamentary and local elections.
And parliamentary candidate, Mikael Bystedt, who is on the staff of party leader Jimmie Åkesson’s employees was exposed after posting hate comments on social media describing Arabs as “scum of the earth” and responding to reports of an arson attack on a mosque in London with the words, “Damn right well done! Now we hope that this will spread to Sweden like wildfire.”
Sweden is also a country regularly cited by far right racist ideologues and politicians such as US president Donald Trump, who play on the theme of evil criminal immigrants destroying the traditionally liberal Scandinavian country.
“You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden? They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible,” Trump told a rally in Florida last year. The speech was reported internationally, despite the bemusement caused in Sweden – where no notable incident had taken place the night before.
Gains by the Sweden Democrats on Sunday will give another boost to far right and fascist parties internationally. At present, the other political parties say they will steer clear of coalitions that would allow the Sweden Democrats into government – in a notable difference to other European countries where the far right now holds ministerial portfolios. But whether this resolution will hold is not clear.
The election on Sunday will give an indication of just how much the fascist party has grown in support and influence – and the news is likely to be grim.