Real breakthrough for Swedish far right is the concessions of other parties

Supporters of the far-right Sweden Democrats

By Mark Buckley

The far right Sweden Democrats did not make the big electoral breakthrough in the latest general election that its supporters had threatened. However it did win the election, and made the biggest gains of any party because almost all the other parties did not fight it politically. Instead they went over to its ground to make concessions to overtly racist, anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric.

The far right had boasted that it would reach 25 per cent in the election and could even be the largest party. Instead it recorded 17.6 per cent, a rise of 4.7 per cent from the 2014 election and won 13 extra seats, of 349 members of the Riksdag. They finished in third spot, unchanged from 2014.  However, all of the three right-wing opposition parties grouped under the Alliance banner as well as the ruling Social Democrats made concessions to the Sweden Democrats’ anti-migrant agenda.

This strategy was hopeless. The largest party in the right-wing Alliance is the Moderates who were the biggest losers in the election down 3.5 per cent and losing 14 seats.  But by and large these losses were to other Alliance member parties. By contrast, the Social Democrat government lost 2.6 per cent and 12 seats. The Social Democrats junior partner the Greens also suffered by association with the Social Democrats, falling by 2.6 per cent and suffering a loss of 10 seats.

The Left Party, which does stand to the left of the Social Democrats, offered one of the few bright spots in the results. Its vote rose by 2.2 per cent and it gained 7 seats.

Under the Social Democrats, the police were instructed to trawl through high-immigrant population areas, arresting undocumented migrants. All crime was increasingly pinned on illegal migrants. There have also been widespread violent attacks on mosques.

Migrants and all ethnic minorities were the victims of the ‘anti-migrant crackdown’. But the efforts to withstand the rise of the far right are useless if the parties of the mainstream ape its rhetoric and implement its policies. It is even pointless in narrowly electoral terms, as fighting on the far right’s agenda only benefits the far right.

Instead, in Sweden and across Europe where the far right is on the rise, they must be fought politically. That means adopting economic policies that benefit the overwhelming majority of the population, and making no concessions to racist, anti-Muslim and xenophobic scapegoating.

An important opportunity to discuss how to fight this renewed rise of the far right will be this forthcoming event in London on Saturday 20 October. The Confronting racism & fascism: International Conference will take place at Friends Meeting House and has been called by Stand Up To Racism, see here.