It may seem there was indeed a surge of sympathy toward the right wing and populist Sverigedemokratarna after the national STV openly took distance from their Party leader´s harsh comments about immigrants. It seems that the infamous party ended up with a record breaking 17,6 % of the votes. Mr. Åkesson had in a panel debate just claimed that immigrants "do not get jobs beacuse they are not swedish.
They do not fit in here". In other words, pack up and leave. I think it was right that the swedish program host from SVT openly took up distance to this. She described the comments as "coarsly generalizing statements" about a group. On the other hand, it may not have been so wise in the short run.
Just like Trump in the US or the Lega Nord in Italy, the party Sverigedemokratarna has taken up an image of victimhood. They are against a rigged system, bu tare being called "racists" unfairly. They are on the side of the true people of the nation. They dare to call things by their name, and take great pride in presenting derogatory descriptions of immigrants.
It is almost certain that this self righteous victimhood narrative has played a role in the last minute up surge on the election day. The sympatisers probably feel like victims themselves, hence the identification.
Many have pointed out that there is some truth to the image of taboo breakers. The mainstream parties in Sweden have been very cautious to debate immigration, many feel there has been a tabu on it. This is a similar critque that has been leveled against leftist parties in Norway, notably Sosialistisk Ventreparti and, a decade ago, Arbeiderpartiet. Since then Ap has catched up with Frp and Høyre.
In Sweden, after the chaotic fall of 2015 when above 100 000 asylum seekers arrived there, Sverigedemokratarna rose steeply in popularity from about 9 % to around 15 % adherence. Now that they are head on heels with the 20 % figure, almost one in five Swedes voted for the party. The vast majority were men, and elderly men in particular.
Yet many average Swedes seem to think that they are the only party that wants to and can tackle immigration. And perhaps this is indeed a thwarted outcome of a tabu-like approach to immigration displayed by Moderaterna and Socialdemokratarna.
Nevertheless, like AFD in Germany, Lega in Italy, Sannfinnerne in Finland, Sverigedemokraterne and their success is disquieting. As prime minister Stefan Løfven said before election day, "they are a racist party with neo-nazis coming and going".
Although it may sound sensationalist, there are many prominent figures in the party with extreme right affiliations in their past. That such figures can climb to the top in any party should be anybody´s worry. Paired with blatantly racist utterings like that of party chief Åkkeson in the last election debate, one should question and worry about what makes people so blind, so gullible as to believe that these extremists in populist disguise can really serve their national interest.
- Freiweni Tekie