Tobias Hübinette in Boston Review:
In the September 11 Swedish parliamentary election, the far-right Sweden Democrats party sent shockwaves through the country and the world by receiving over 20 percent of the votes, becoming the country’s second-biggest party. The historic election resulted in the resignation of the Social Democratic government, ending its eight-year rule, and the appointment of a right-wing government led by the Moderate Party’s Ulf Kristersson as prime minister. This deepens Europe’s rightward slide, and enshrines a radical right-wing politics in a country that has long been admired for its progressive politics and strong social safety net.
The Sweden Democrats have a direct organizational lineage tracing back to World War II–era Nazism. After the war, militant fascists kept organizing on the fringes of Swedish politics in organizations such as the Nordic Realm Party, founded in 1956, and Keep Sweden Swedish, founded in 1979. In 1988 leading figures from these groups came together to form the Sweden Democrats. During the party’s most radical years, in the 1990s, it led by convicted former Nazi activist Anders Klarström and was infamous for skinhead street violence. Just ahead of the recent election, the party published a white paper establishing that one of its founders had been a Waffen-SS volunteer during World War II. This is the context in which the current party leader Jimmie Åkesson, along with much of the party leadership, joined the Sweden Democrats in the mid-1990s. In a very superficial sense, the Sweden Democrats have sought to distance themselves from their Nazi roots, and in this round of elections called themselves simply a socially conservative party with nationalist values. On the surface, then, the party is actually less radical than, for example, Alternative for Germany or the French National Rally. It has even, for now, set aside its Swexit demands, anti-NATO stance, and pro-Russian leanings. Nevertheless, the party’s raison d’être remains intact: to recreate the demographic homogeneity of Sweden by any means necessary.