How the far right stopped Sweden’s election from going well.
The Sweden Democrats, a party with neo-Nazi roots, got more people to vote for them by running ads about immigration, religion, crime, and how much environmental rules cost.
Magnus Karlsson is 43 years old and works in IT. He is about to start his own business. He is articulate and thoughtful, and he pays close attention to the news in Sweden and around the world.
But he was tired of what he saw as the Swedish political establishment’s lack of concern about immigration, crime, and inflation. So, he voted for the first time for the Sweden Democrats last week.
The party, which was started in 1988 and has roots in the neo-Nazi movement, got 20.5% of the vote on Sunday. This gave it the second-highest number of seats in Parliament, after the center-left Social Democrats. It got more votes than the more traditional center-right Moderates party, whose leader, Ulf Kristersson, is expected to become prime minister. It is the biggest party in the right-leaning coalition that is expected to form the next government.
Even though they got a lot of votes, the Sweden Democrats won’t be in the cabinet. This is because another coalition partner, the smaller Liberal Party, said no to the idea. But the Sweden Democrats and their leader, Jimmie Akesson, are likely to have a big impact on how the government runs. The party is very anti-immigrant and is also likely to want changes to how police work, how criminal justice works, how social benefits work, and how rules about the environment work.
From Mr. Karlsson’s point of view, the most important thing is immigration. “As a country, we’ve been naive—what that’s makes us Swedes, it’s in our DNA—and we’ve always thought the best of migrants and refugees,” he said. “But if those people take advantage of us and our kindness, we might have to change our minds.”
Sweden has always been welcoming to political refugees. During the 2015 mass migration crisis, Sweden took in more migrants and asylum seekers per person than any other country in Europe, including Germany. Most of these people came from Muslim countries. But the center-left Social Democrats, who have been in power for the last eight years, have failed in many people’s eyes to integrate the newcomers, while the far right has made progress by linking the long-standing problem of gun crime to immigration.
Researchers say that more research is needed to find out if there is a link between immigration and gun violence. Other European countries with similar levels of immigration have not seen the same rise in gun violence.