In the nation that serves as an example for the rest of the Nordic region, the Sweden Democrats are unequivocally gaining support. The nation is now through a period of instability.

stockholm sweden
[Stockholm, Sweden]

It's finished. The final outcome is really obvious. The resignation of Magdalena Andersson, Sweden's first female prime minister, comes after a year in government service and three days of election-related criminal activity. And this is in spite of the fact that it has a popularity rating of somewhere around fifty percent and that the Social Democratic Party is the biggest parliamentary group with a significant percentage of the vote.

The atmosphere of the last few days is eerily similar to that which prevailed in Great Britain in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. Some members of the populace seem to be in a state of profound disbelief, while others exude confidence and joy. The third aspect is one of pragmatism; there is yet a glimmer of optimism that the razor-thin majority of 176 to 173 seats will prevent a coalition from being formed. It's possible that the liberal party may find a way to break away from the bourgeois-conservative right-wing camp, which is now in the majority but precariously so. After his election on September 20th, the new speaker of the house, who will be known as "Talman," has a lot of work to do before he calls on the leader of the party that has the majority of the seats in the parliament to attempt to form a government.

The second winning party in the election was the Sweden Democrats, which has the international media scratching their heads. It stands out among the ranks of the increasingly common right-wing populist groups in Europe due to her origins in the Swedish neo-Nazi movement as well as individual links to the violent Nordic Resistance Movement (Nordic resistance movement) and other questionable organizations. Since it first gained representation in parliament in 2006, the populist, extreme right-wing party has seen considerable gains in each of the last four elections. Her most recent victory has propelled her into the position of de facto opposition leader. Even in Sweden, nobody had any inkling of it until only a few hours before election day on Sunday. 214 of the party's candidates were found to have direct ties to right-wing extremism in a research that was conducted by an NGO not long before the election.

And with that in mind, does it mean the head of your party has the authority to establish a government? That is the only question to which one can provide a definitive response that is not positive. Because, despite all of his popularity, Jimmie Kesson, the leader of the Sweden Democrats, who was once briefly affiliated with the moderates, can only depend on votes from members of his own party, Jimmie Kesson can only count on votes from members of his own party. The challenge of building a government in Sweden cannot begin with it as a starting point because it is not sufficient.

Some people view the electoral success of the right as an expression of normality in Europe - a kind of playing catch-up within Europe, where voices of the extreme right-wing have established themselves, including in Austria and France. Others see the electoral success of the right as an expression of the normalization of European politics. Where right-wing extremists have been involved in governments from time to time, where conservative parties have become more and more radical and opened up to the right, where right-wing extremists have ever larger majorities in parliament, and where more and more mayors have been elected by their party. Where in Italy does the risk of neo-fascism most strongly exist?

On social media, a number of social democrats and communists have expressed their utter devastation, writing that "Scandinavia will never be the same again." But what was or is the situation in Scandinavia? Or, more specifically, how is Sweden doing? Does the concept of Sweden as a "social democratic utopia" that entails a strong, harmonious community, social fairness, and a classless welfare society (still) correspond to the Swedish self-image?

Anyone who has been paying attention to the discussions taking place in the nation for an extended period of time is aware that some Swedes do not have a positive view of themselves anymore. During the campaign for the election this year, a pessimistic view of their own nation was the dominant theme. The narratives painted a picture of a reality that was shaped by the Russian war of aggression, the energy crisis, inflation, and recession, by real fears of social decline and increasing social inequality, by daily high crime rates in which innocent people — including children — sometimes fall victim to death, by the erosion and privatization of the welfare state, lack of access to education, horrific costs at the dentist, and inadequate nursing and health care. Surprisingly, all of the parties involved came to the conclusion that the future would not seem promising if things continue as they have been. One subject that causes people to be anxious about the future was almost completely missing from the election campaign. In the land of Greta Thunberg, the impending climate disaster was scarcely discussed at all.

There are a great number of unhappy and even angry people living in Sweden. People with low incomes and low levels of education living in low-income regions believe that the nation is heading in the wrong direction. The reservoir for anxieties and displeasure in Sweden is the party known as the Sweden Democrats. Because it does not vow to reduce unemployment benefits, but rather to nationalize them, some people consider it to be on the left-wing in terms of economic policy.

Her simplistic approach to problem-solving, which can be boiled down to the formula "zero asylum, zero migration," speaks against a left-wing orientation in the following way: Considering that "foreigners" are the source of all problems, Sweden can only be saved if it prioritizes the welfare of its ethnic Swedes. The resultant policy proposals of the SD in foreign policy range from more stringent deportations to the abolition of the feminist foreign policy and the cancellation of development cooperation - all of which would most likely be counterproductive, with the key phrase being "combating the causes of flight."

It is also made abundantly evident by taking a more in-depth look at the regulations governing the labor market that the pro-worker rhetoric does not reflect any genuine ideological belief. For example, Moderates, Christian Democrats, Sweden Democrats, and Liberals are all in agreement that they wish to restrict strikes and make it more difficult to exhibit support within union solidarity. This sentiment is shared by all of these political parties. In addition to this, they want to do away with the so-called Ghent system of unions.

In Sweden, unemployment insurance is not included in the mandatory state insurance system. Instead, it is handled by member funds and, with one notable exception, by the trade unions. This results in incentives for female employees who want to be properly insured to join unions, which helps explain why the North has the greatest union density of any region in the world. When it comes to collective bargaining, the high level of organization possessed by trade unions is, in turn, considered to be one of their primary strengths. The proposal made by the Sweden Democrats to nationalize unemployment compensation is seen by the unions as a direct assault on the Swedish model, which is built on the principle that strong social partners are an essential component. And who knows, maybe the Sweden Democrats have similar aspirations.

That is to say, they intend to undermine the Swedish model of a social and welfare state, which is fundamentally based on collective bargaining between powerful social partners, namely the employers and the unions. In other words, they want to bring the unions into disrepute in order to undermine the Swedish model. Surprisingly, this labor market strategy of the Sweden Democrats did not play a part in the public discussions that were held about the election.

First and foremost, the Sweden Democrats are very interested in the methods used by illiberal democracies in Europe, particularly those seen in Hungary. There has recently been discussion in Sweden over the possibility of intensifying the country's war on criminal groups. On the other hand, it is not quite apparent what constitutes a criminal organization, especially in terms of whether or not it is intended to move beyond organized crime. In addition to the planned reduction in the legal protections afforded to labor unions, the possible escalation possibilities are, without a doubt, mind-boggling, particularly for members of minority groups: Organizations such as labor unions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were all of a sudden criminalized in illiberal democracies on the basis of a questionable legal foundation.

No one is able to accurately foresee the degree to which the Sweden Democrats will be able to have their demands met and the policy areas in which they will be need to make concessions. It is equally challenging to speculate as to whether the discussions that have already begun between Sweden's conservative moderates and the party leader of the Sweden Democrats will be limited to the discussion of policy proposals or will also include discussion of participation in the government in the form of ministerial posts.

As a result, Sweden will continue to captivate the attention of people all around the globe in the days ahead. However, even with the Sweden Democrats in power, the direction of travel toward Russia would be maintained at least for the foreseeable future. The Sweden Democrats, along with practically all other parties in the Swedish parliament, cast their vote in favor of joining NATO. Concerning the issue of the Russian Federation's aggressive conflict in Ukraine, Sweden's Democrats have taken the position of supporting Ukraine. However, the party has always had admirers of Russia in the past, and even the party leader found it difficult to choose between Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden in the previous interview, so the question arises as to whether parts of the party have a say in foreign policy, which could pose a safety risk. In the past, the party leader found it difficult to choose between Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden.

In order to point the people of Sweden in the direction of a better, more democratic, and more socially fair future, the social democrats in Sweden need to immediately establish tactics and, most importantly, stronger partnerships. In the event that this does not occur, it will become more difficult to keep the right and their objectives out of the responsibilities of the government or even to stop them. mainly due to the fact that the support poses a risk of legitimizing them even more.

The author Kristina Birke Daniels is director of the FES regional office for the Nordic countries in Stockholm.
Through: IPG
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