Sweden Democrat party leader Jimmie Åkesson. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/Sveriges Radio

Researcher: Sweden no longer European exception for far-right parties

"That's a new phenomenon in Sweden"
2:41 min

A German study that compares countries across Europe says Sweden is an ideal hothouse for right-wing populist parties. This comes as this country has entered what is being called the "super election" year in this country, with elections to local, regional, national and European bodies taking place during the year. But why is Sweden especially receptive to xenophobic parties?

Florian Hartleb is one of those who hass worked on the report, by the Centre for European Studies and the Konrad Adenaur Institute.

He says that many countries in Europe have well-established right-wing populist parties, and that, while until now Sweden has been an exception, it is now becoming part of the general picture. His study covers countries in the EU, plus Norway and Switzerland.

The party in Sweden that is counted as right-wing populist is the Sweden Democrat party, which got almost six percent of the vote at the last election, and is currently getting over nine percent in opinion polls ahead of September's general election.

This year there are also elections to the EU parliament in May, and right-wing populist parties are expected to do well across the continent, and to start cooperating across borders.

Florian Hartleb says the EU elections always give alternative parties a better chance.

"European elections are still 'second' elections with very little turnout", he told Radio Sweden, "Outsider parties or anti-establishment parties like the Pirate Party in the last election, have much more opportunities than in the national election."

And the right-wing populist parties are likely to keep on doing well. Because they play on people's fears, says Florian Hartleb.

In the election to the EU parliament on the 25th of May Sweden will elect 20 representatives. The EU parliament now has to say yes to all EU laws before they can be put into place, and for the first time this year they will also have a say in which people will form the new EU Commission.

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