Stockholm © Anders Wiklund / Reuters
The far-right anti-immigration party Sweden Democrats are tying for second place with the center-right opposition, a new poll shows. It comes as right-wing parties across Europe see Donald Trump’s victory as a welcome defeat for the establishment.
I confess I don't know a lot about the Sweden Democrats, but I wonder if labeling them "far-right" is an example of the media bias that became so obvious after the election of Trump. Are they actually 'far-right', or are they just far to the right of the media and possibly the current government. One could easily argue that both the media and the government of Sweden are 'left' if not 'far-left'. Consequently, someone leaning to the right, even only somewhat to the right, would appear to be 'far-right' of what the government and the media consider normal - themselves.
According to a poll published on Wednesday by Aftonbladet newspaper, support for the Sweden Democrats (SD) party rose to 21.5 percent, compared with the 13 percent they got in the 2014 general election. While the ruling Social Democrats maintain their lead of 25.7 percent, the Sweden Democrats (SD) are gaining ground on the Moderate Party, the largest opposition party with a popularity of 22 percent.
SD popularity figures are rising for a third month in a row, Aftonbladet adds.
“There is a movement in both Europe and the United States where the establishment is being challenged,” SD leader Jimmie Akesson told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper. “It is clearly happening here as well.”
The poll commissioned by Aftonbladet was carried out by Inizio, which asked 2,051 people over 18 whom they would vote for if parliamentary elections were held today.
The Sweden Democrats growth in popularity is part of a surge in right-wing populism across Europe, with the anti-immigration and Eurosceptic AfD (Alternative for Germany) making huge gains at the expense of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, while the Austrian Freedom Party’s candidate Norbert Hofer is running for the Austrian presidency in elections scheduled for December 4.
Hofer has warned that Austria may leave the EU if Turkey succeeds in joining. The UK of course has already left the EU earlier this year in the much-publicized Brexit, following a campaign by the anti-immigration UKIP party.
The far-right in Europe has been emboldened by the election victory of Donald Trump, seeing it as a backlash to the establishment’s stained reputation. Marine Le Pen of France’s National Front now feels she is a real contender for the 2017 presidential elections
“Donald Trump has made possible what was presented as completely impossible,” Le Pen said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday. “So it’s a sign of hope for those who cannot bear wild globalization. They cannot bear the political life led by the elites.”
Meanwhile, polling organizations were heavily criticized after the victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential elections, where a majority predicted a win for Hillary Clinton.
“What seems to be a minority view in public might be a majority view in private,” Lars Gylling, YouGov's communications manager for the Nordics, told The Local. “There are some things that we don't want to tell even our closest friends, and those things are often tied to nationalism and views on immigrants, especially if they are negative.”
The populist movement is driven significantly by fears over terrorism, immigration and multiculturalism. In Sweden there is a popular perception that the crime rate by migrants and refugees is spiraling out-of-control.
Despite being a relatively low-crime country, there have been alarming reports of over fifty so-called “no-go zones” across Sweden where crime rates are high and police officers are at risk of attack.
Several high-profile incidents, including 38 reported sexual assaults at a Stockholm music festival this summer, have strengthened this view. Although the Swedish Crime Survey reported an 11 percent decrease in such attacks in 2015, the same year which saw a record number of migrants – nearly 163,000 applied for asylum according to the Swedish Migration Agency – the Swedish Democrats are the only party which has addressed voter’s fears directly. Sweden has also contributed the third-most jihadi fighters per capita to the conflict in Syria out of all the EU countries, and there is concern that returning militants will go on to commit terrorist attacks at home.