Sweden is holding its national general election on the 9th of September and with election day fast approaching, millions of Swedes will be considering to vote for the radical right-wing Swedish Democrats.
Political analysts and the media are worried that the Swedish Democrats may grow to become the second-largest party in the Riksdag, Sweden’s Parliament.
Opinion polling for the general election shows that the Social Democrat Party (SAP) are frontrunners. Followed closely by the Swedish Democrats and the conservative Moderate Party (MP).
The rest of the parties that are represented in the Riksdag are polling at 9% and below.
Polls predict the worst parliamentary election for the SAP in their history for over a century, following the trend of social democratic parties across Europe, only Portuguese and British left wing parties have escaped the decline.
The success of the Swedish Democrats will surely be riding on the wave of radical authoritarian, nationalist and anti-immigration politics that has swept throughout Europe. However, the SAP may be powerful enough to keep their influence, even if considerable, outside of government.
This, though, comes at the cost of a strong or united government.
The polls indicate that there are a number of outcomes that are not at all favourable for the political establishment.
For a start, the Swedish Democrats may become a kingmaker for the next government. Most parties have tended to avoid working with the Swedish Democrats, because of their Neo-Nazi roots. Their success in the election may work to soften that antagonism from rival parties.
A consequence of the Swedish Democrat’s stronger power may compel centre-party and right-wing parties, like the MP, to consider forming a government with them. Or it could force the SAP and the MP (the left and right-wing) to unite in a coalition. Simply because they want to keep the Swedish Democrats out of government.
Parties from opposite sides of the political spectrum that unite to form a coalition government often come to weak compromises on key issues. Also, forming a government to keep one particular (major) party out of government sets a weak political mandate and undermines the credibility of the parties in power. However, if necessary, it might be better than giving the Swedish Democrats political legitimacy.
To give Swedish Democrat MP’s top positions in government creates the space for politics to become a little more radical.
It might seem unfair for Sweden to bear such a burden, but Sweden will have an important role in the next few years, as the circumstances of this election may very well be seen in other countries.
The radical right is only becoming bolder, like a malignant tumour. And we are seeing increasingly that the threat to democracy comes from within European countries.
The way Sweden deals with the Swedish Democrats, France with their National Front and Germany with the AfD, will set precedent for future countries who battle with authoritarian, populist parties driven primarily by fear.