Swedish Democrats: Nationalism with flowers.

Parliamentary politics is a dirty game played by dirty people in which the good guys almost always lose. But occasionally the least dirty of the dozen ends up with the winning hand. This is what happened when the mildly nationalist party, the Swedish Democrats, pulled the rug out from under the feet of the Social Democrats.

Having only been in power in the Swedish parliament for less than two months, the Social-Democrat-led minority government now has to schedule a new parliamentary election in March next year. This is thanks to the Swedish Democrats, who earlier this month voted against the proposed 2015 Finance Bill. This proved to be a genius move, and saw the Swedish Democrats soar to 17.7 % in the opinion polls, leaving the Social Democrats foaming at the mouth with anger.

But other than the delicious taste of Social Democrat tears, is the rise of the Swedish Democrats good news for Swedish nationalism?

Yes and no. Politically, the Swedish Democrats are far from the much needed political solution to the demographic and socio-cultural problems in Sweden. The Swedish Democrats are a carbon copy of the Danish People's Party, the Danish right wing populist party I wrote about before.

The Swedish Democrats follow the exact same tactics as all the right wing populist parties in Europe: They are mildly socially conservative and criticize immigration, but the degree of opposition towards immigration fluctuates depending on how close elections are. When elections are close, the rhetoric of these parties is about stopping all third world immigration (and sometimes they even talk about deportation), but when the elections are far away they act more like the right wing of the Social Democratic party, merely talking about welfare and moaning about how we need to better integrate immigrants.

Sweden may need a more radical approach to survive.
Sometimes this two-faced approach happens simultaneously. In an interview with a major Danish newspaper, the acting chairman of the Swedish Democrats, Mattias Karlsson (the actual chairman is on sick leave due to "burnout") said that the party is extremely worried about demographic developments in Sweden and that this is the primary focus of the party. But almost in the same breath he made it clear that the party excludes any party member with “racist views.” These two statements are not necessarily contradictory, but this choice of words is very symptomatic of European right wing populists.

Since the average voter only remembers the statements he agree with, this tactic gives the party two simultaneous public images: One as a highly ethno-nationalist party planning to kick all non-whites out of the country, and one as a party slightly opposed to immigration who just wants everyone to get along and hold hands.

This tactic has had very interesting consequences in Denmark. On the positive side: Since this kind of party attracts a huge portion of average voters, the Danish People's Party has pushed the public discussion about immigration in a much more critical direction. This sometimes results in even liberals and Marxists making critical comments about immigration or Muslim extremists in order to secure some votes.

This kind of shift in the public discussion is much needed in Sweden. The press and politicians in Sweden are notorious for their unapologetic witch hunt against anything resembling nationalism or critical of immigration. I hope the Swedish Democrats can have a similar effect on Sweden’s Overton Window as the Danish People's Party has had in Denmark.

But, as I wrote in my article about the Danish People's Party, in terms of political action they are ineffectual. We have never received more immigrants in Denmark and we have never given out more citizenships to non-Western immigrants than we have with the Danish People's Party officially cooperating with the centre-right government.

And what is worse is that the mobilization of real Danish nationalists has proven very difficult since the rise of the Danish People's Party. It attracts such an enormous portion of the people opposed to immigration that there no one left to create a real nationalist alternative. I fear the same might happen in Sweden if the Swedish Democrats remain a major player in Swedish politics.

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