What does the right’s historic victory in Sweden mean for Europe?

Sweden Democrats leader, Jimmie Åkesson
By John Cody
14 Min Read

After Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson admitted defeat and conceded the election to a coalition of right-leaning parties, conservatives across Europe are celebrating. The Scandinavian nation, which was once one of the most left-leaning countries in Europe and well-known for accepting the most refugees per capita during the migrant crisis of 2015 and 2016, has made a radical turnaround.

Of course, the reasons behind this turnaround are well known despite heavy censorship in the country. The utopian multicultural future envisioned by many Swedes has come crashing down over the last few years, and as Remix News has exhaustively documented, the shootings, murders, drug dealing, clan crime, attacks on women, honor killings, random assaults, and rising sexual crimes have left the once-peaceful nation shell shocked. The deteriorating security situation even led Germany’s top-selling newspaper, Bild, to label Sweden the “most dangerous country in Europe.”

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Out of the turmoil of the last years, the Sweden Democrats have emerged as the second-largest party in Sweden with over 20 percent of the vote. As a result, much of the domestic and international media are openly acknowledging the much maligned party is the biggest winner of the entire election.

However, there are a number of challenges ahead, and the Sweden Democrats will have to walk a tightrope to succeed during a troubling time for Europe. For one, despite the party’s enormous victory, a version of the cordon sanitaire remains in effect. Historically, all parties refused to work with the Sweden Democrats, and in truth, all the parties in the new government will do their best to maintain that policy. That means that despite the Sweden Democrats being the biggest party in the new four-party right-wing government, the SD’s leader, Jimmie Åkesson, will have no opportunity to become prime minister. Instead, that right will go to Ulf Kristersson, who leads the Moderates party, which saw only 19.1 percent of the vote, an embarrassingly low result for what was once the “mainstream” conservative party in the country.

Even more importantly, the new government plans to lock the Sweden Democrats out of any ministerial positions. That represents a major check on the party’s power and ability to influence policy. If the Sweden Democrats are not careful, they risk having little power in the new government while still being shouldered with the blame if crime levels continue to rise, immigration continues unabated, and inflation and a recession wrack the Swedish economy over the coming year.

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It is unclear what direction the Moderates will steer the government, and in many ways, they will desire to maintain the status quo. Like the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Germany, the Moderates party can at best be described as “conservative-lite.” Given the mandate handed to the Sweden Democrats, and the sharp turn against more immigration by the Swedish public, the Moderates will do their best to look like they are taking action on immigration and crime while only offering cosmetic changes at best. The Moderates will also work to distance itself from the Sweden Democrats, even willingly attacking its ostensible coalition partner in order to raise itself up as the “tolerant and respectable” conservative alternative.

It is also worth noting that the Moderates belong to the European People’s Party (EPP) in the European Parliament, the same powerful political grouping that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has accused of losing its soul to the left.

In a memo Orbán wrote in 2020, he took the EPP to task, pointing out that it has embraced a number of left-wing concepts over the years, including gender ideology and pro-migration stances. The EPP’s leadership long pursued a goal of kicking Orbán’s Fidesz party out of the coalition, which culminated in Fidesz withdrawing from the EPP in 2021.

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To grasp what kind of ideological vision the Moderates represent, it is worth reading Orbán’s memo to the EPP before his party was pushed towards the exit in 2021.

“We gave up the family model based on matrimony of one woman and one man, and fell into the arms of gender ideology. Instead of supporting the birth of children, we see mass migration as the solution to our demographic problem. We don’t stand up for ourselves as old and great Europeans, and don’t take on the fight against left-liberal intellectual forces and the media they influence and control,” Orbán wrote in a scathing two-page memo, which in many ways, represented his farewell note to a political group that had once historically represented Christian conservatives in Europe.

The other partner in the four-party Swedish government, the Christian Democrats, also belong to the EPP, underlining the challenges the Swedish Democrats will face to bring their agenda to fruition.

Is a new sound immigration policy possible?

The Sweden Democrats, for their part, say they will put Sweden first again, with Åkesson writing on Facebook, “Now the work begins to make Sweden good again… We have had enough of failed social democratic policies that for eight years have continued to lead the country in the wrong direction. It is time to start rebuilding security, welfare, and cohesion. It is time to put Sweden first.”

Nevertheless, the narrow two-vote majority enjoyed by the right in Sweden remains fragile, and already one Liberal party MP said she would try to bring down the government if it included the Swedish Democrats, which could torpedo any real policy moves designed to control immigration or clamp down on crime.

“I went to the polls to defend human rights and freedoms,” MP Romina Pourmokhtari told Swedish media. “That is where we Liberals will have to aim our fire in the coming years.”

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The right can expect more politicians from their own coalition trying to gain the adoration of Sweden’s dominant left-wing media by “voting with their conscience” and “standing for tolerance.” Although they may harm their own parties, the potential for personal gain remains substantial. The same kind of accolades were heaped on U.S. Republicans such as former President George W. Bush, former Senator John McCain and current Senator Mitt Romney for their constant opposition to Donald Trump. All three were suddenly lionized by the media and cultural establishments that had long lambasted them, and for many politicians, whether they are in Sweden or the U.S., such praise can become intoxicating and even financially lucrative.

The Sweden Democrats ran a campaign focused on immigration and crime, and proposed that Sweden should stop accepting all refugees except those from Ukraine. It is clear that there are going to be some in the new government likely to fight this agenda. Even if the new government does manage to acquire the needed votes to limit or even halt migration to Sweden, they face an uphill battle from hostile EU institutions, such as the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), an organization staffed with judges known for their connections to billionaire oligarch George Soros and which has long stymied the United Kingdom’s attempts to control its own unchecked immigration problems.

What does the Swedish election mean for Europe?

In many ways, Sweden is one of the main canaries in the coal mine in Western Europe. Unlike its fellow Nordic neighbors, which have taken a far more pragmatic and restrictionist view on immigration, Sweden went full bore on opening up its country, which has changed its demographics dramatically and reshaped entire cities. The country’s shift to the right represents a reactionary response that may come home to roost in other countries with radically open immigration policies, with Germany the most notable example. The current left-wing German government is promoting an aggressive immigration agenda, which includes mass amnesty, a faster naturalization process, and a push for 500,000 more immigrants a year, all while illegal immigration numbers are soaring higher.

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Notably, all parties in Germany have long vowed to reject any cooperation with the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, but the same was once said in Sweden before this election shattered those past promises. Can such a political rearrangement ever occur in Germany? Undeniably, with each erosion of this “vow” in surrounding countries, which also occurred in Austria under former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, the chances become higher of such a breakthrough in Europe’s economic and political powerhouse. The AfD must first appeal to a broader section of the electorate, and although it has been rising in the polls as of late, it would need a result likely in the range of 20 percent or higher to carry enough weight to have a chance to free itself from political isolation.

For Hungary and Poland, the election result will be seen as a sort of reprieve — far better than if the socialists had retained power, but still unclear as to what direct benefit the new government will deliver to conservative causes at the European level. Both Hungary and Poland are facing unprecedented pressure from the European Union, which is pushing to do away with the veto process that has long protected the sovereignty of both countries and served as a check on the power of a more federalized Europe.

Even more worrisome for conservatives, Nyamko Sabuni, the former leader of the Liberal party, which currently shares power in the four-party government, said Hungary should be removed from the European Union over its stance on LGBT issues. She remains a member and a powerful voice in the party, which means the Liberals are shaping up to be potentially the most problematic member of the entire Swedish coalition.

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Even if the new Swedish government backs the EU’s attempts to punish Hungary and Poland with funding cuts and sanctions, it likely that the Sweden Democrats will actively work against this agenda by pressuring their own government. It remains unclear how much power Åkesson will be able to wield on foreign policy issues and the machinations taking place in Brussels, but it does offer a glimmer of hope for conservative governments.

What happens in Italy’s upcoming election will likely be far more important for the future of the EU, as a solid right-wing coalition there in a major founding EU member state could upend the political chessboard and buy the European right more time to survive and even flourish. Nevertheless, what happened in Sweden is perhaps the best result European conservatives could have hoped for. The Sweden Democrats must now use their bully pulpit as the largest party of the new government to cajole and pressure the Moderates and their other government partners into following an agenda that will reverse the policies that have greatly harmed Sweden’s once world-class standard of living and transformed the nation’s demographics, largely to the detriment of the country’s ethnic Swedish population, which have lived in and called the country home for thousands of years.

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