In the latest major European election, the ongoing wave of national populism seems to have lost some momentum. But despite the mainstream media’s celebration of the NatPop’s lower-than-expected performance, the fact remains that what happened in Sweden was still a crushing blow to establishment politics, and the latest rightward shift of the Overton Window on the key issue of immigration.
By the Numbers
Polling throughout the pre-election season saw the right-wing national populists, the Sweden Democrats, battling the major center-left party, the Social Democrats, for first place. Throughout much of 2017 and the summer of 2018, not only were the Sweden Democrats on track to surpass the center-right Moderate Party and become the second-largest party, but they were even sometimes projected to become the largest party in the Swedish parliament, the Riksdag.
If this had happened, it would have marked the first time since 1914 that the Social Democrats were not the largest party. The possibility of a nearly 130-year-old party being beaten by a party that just turned 30 years old would have been nothing short of absolutely historic. It would also be a further testament to the strength and political savvy of 39-year-old party leader Jimmie Åkesson, under whom the Sweden Democrats have gone from zero to 49 seats in just four years (from 2010 to 2014).
Their chances were only boosted further by the ongoing migrant crisis in Sweden; as the country has imported more migrants than any other European nation, it has seen a massive increase in crimes committed by migrants, culminating in a series of coordinated arson attacks by migrant gangs in the summer of 2018, which even the left-wing prime minister, Stefan Lövfen, admitted was organized “almost like a military operation.”
But even as the most recent polling seemed to give the Sweden Democrats a comfortable second place, the final result was even less than that. The Sweden Democrats garnered roughly 17.6 percent of the popular vote, up from 12.9 in the 2014 election cycle, for a new total of 62 seats in the Riksdag while still remaining only the third-largest party. This puts them just shy of the Moderates, who maintained second place despite losing 14 seats after dropping from 23.3 to 19.8, thus holding 70 seats; the Social Democrats also suffered losses by dropping from 31 percent to 28.4 percent, costing them 12 seats for a new total of 101 seats.
This marks the worst performance for the Moderates since 2002, and most significantly, is the worst result for the Social Democrats in 110 years. Adding to the center-left’s woes, the Social Democrats’ coalition partner from the 2014 election, the Greens, also suffered serious losses by dropping 10 seats, from 6.9 to 4.3. They only barely surpassed the 4 percent threshold necessary to even make it into the Riksdag, with just 15 seats overall.
Aside from the Sweden Democrats, a handful of smaller parties made gains as well; the other members of the Moderates’ center-right coalition (known as The Alliance), the Centre Party and the Christian Democrats, gained 9 seats (from 6.1 to 8.6) and 7 seats (from 4.6 to 6.4) respectively, with the former now holding 31 seats while the latter holds 23. The fourth center-right party, the Liberals, statistically tied with their previous performance and thus did not gain or lose any seats, holding steady at 19 seats.
One other notable performance was the increase for the Left Party, which has its roots in Communism and is the one other major Eurosceptic party besides the Sweden Democrats, gained 7 seats after rising to 7.9 percent from 5.7 percent, for a new total of 28 seats.
Not a Hangover, Just a Headache
The overall result is that both of the two major blocs have fallen far short of a majority. The center-left bloc holds only 116 seats, while the center-right bloc holds 143 seats; 175 seats are needed for a majority.
Swedish professor and Guardian contributor Christian Christensen, who covered the elections for most of the night, described the Sweden Democrats’ performance as clear proof that they have shifted the country’s Overton Window to the right on immigration, and are more than likely to “cause huge headaches,” even if they did not make gains as dramatically as expected.
Christensen also pointed out all of the major flaws with any possible coalitions that need to be formed in order to govern: The center-left can try to include the Left Party, but including the formerly Communist party would most likely turn off any potential right-wing coalition members from joining. The Liberals and the Centre Party have ruled out a possible center-right coalition with the Sweden Democrats, which have been essentially blacklisted by almost all of the major parties.
At this point, there are only two possibilities: A cross-bloc coalition between the center-right and the center-left (akin to the current governing coalition in Germany), or a minority government of the center-right supported by the Sweden Democrats (similar to the current minority government of Denmark). Prime Minister Lövfen demanded that other parties come together for the former option, declaring that the Sweden Democrats “can never, and will never, offer anything that will help society” and that “they will only increase division and hate.”
But as it stands now, despite all the virtue-signaling and grandstanding from the major parties and the left, the results are clear. Sweden is now in a political deadlock primarily due to a collapse in support for the major establishment parties, as legitimate concerns over mass migration and the encroachment of the European Union become more widespread on both the right and the left.
A Victory Nonetheless
What this election proves is that the ongoing Patriot Spring is showing no signs of stopping; this is just another part of the ebb and flow that is to be expected with many tides. Sometimes it produces a tidal wave, and sometimes it recedes. Keep in mind that this election comes on the heels of three consecutive landslide victories for NatPop parties in Austria, the Czech Republic, and Italy. This is still a net gain for the movement, even if it is not an outright victory like in those countries’ elections, and is most definitely a net loss for the establishment parties (especially on the left).
Overall, this election can be more accurately compared to the most recent Dutch election early last year. Although Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom was polling strongly and even expected to come in first, it ultimately fell short while still making modest gains, becoming the second-largest party overall, and forcing the other parties to form a very weak coalition after the longest negotiating period in Dutch history.
In many ways, the Sweden Democrats’ performance here is similar, with some minor improvements. They made the largest gains of any party in this election, garnering just enough seats to deny both major parties and their coalitions a majority. Even if the more centrist Centre Party were to join a full left-wing coalition of the Social Democrats, the Left Party, and the Greens, it would produce exactly 175 seats, which would be a literal one-seat majority and just as unstable as the current Dutch government. A cross-bloc coalition between the center-right and center-left would also be rather unstable due to severe ideological differences, and if formed, would be vulnerable to collapse at any moment.
Something else to consider is the Sweden Democrats’ performance in comparison to how many Swedish citizens actually express nationalist and anti-immigration sentiments. When 15 European countries were ranked based on how many of their populations express such ideas, Sweden came in last with a median score of 1.2 (Italy was the highest, at 4.1).
With this taken into consideration, the Sweden Democrats obviously performed much stronger with voters outside of its core base, even if it still garnered a smaller percentage than most opinion polls predicted. This has been further confirmed by research proving that, in addition to holding onto virtually all of their voters from 2014, the Sweden Democrats also gained about 19 percent of Social Democrat voters and 18 percent of Moderate voters, with 3 percent or less taken from the remaining parties. This amounted to a record total of 41 percent of Swedish voters changing to a different party from the previous election, with many of them obviously switching to the Sweden Democrats.
And all of this came about even after the usual never-ending onslaught of vitriol and lies from the global media, falsely accusing the Sweden Democrats of being a “neo-Nazi” party. Despite the increased scrutiny from the establishment and gleeful media declarations that this election was a “disappointment,” the NatPop forces have once again managed to triumph.
And if the aforementioned research is any indication, it is indicative of the ongoing trend that, slowly but surely, more and more voters from both sides will come to realize that so-called “far-right” views are actually perfectly normal. It is not “far-right” to oppose mass immigration, legal or otherwise, that results in a spike in crime and a disruption of society; nor is it “neo-Nazi” to oppose the insidious influence of multinational entities that seek to undermine national sovereignty and identity, like the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels.
From the narrower partial victories like the Netherlands and Germany, to the greater landslide victories like Austria and Italy, it is clear that Europe is slowly waking up to the growing problems that will not simply go away, as much as the establishment would like to pretend they will. Some countries are just waking up faster than others, but all are waking up nonetheless.