In Sweden, the far-right Swedish Democrats party, often called fascist and racist for its nationalist and anti-immigration policies–as well as for public scandals such as racist comments posted online and photos of swastika-wearing candidates–has become the third largest party in the nation. Thousands demonstrated against the outcome of the vote in Stockholm.
“We want to organize immediately,” said Jazz Munteanu, an organizer of the protests. “I would not want be home on the couch, sad over election results–that we have fascists and racists who have come into our parliament.”
More than 3,000 people congregated at the Stockholm’s main square in response to Munteanu’s call.
The Swedish Democrats party now occupies 49 seats of Sweden’s 349-seat parliament.
In 2010, the party made it to parliament with 5.7 percent of the vote, or 20 seats.
A leader of the Swedish Democrats party, Jimmy Ståhl, responded to the demonstration.
“As I see it, we have one of the best migration policies–to call us racists is just ridiculous.”
In the election, 13 percent of Swedes voted in favor of the Swedish Democrats, despite several pre-election scandals, including the stepping down of one candidate after a photo was publicized of her wearing a swastika armband, and another candidate received public criticism after posting racist and anti-immigrant comments on the internet.
The rising number of voters who supported the Swedish Democrats also did so despite news that the young leader of the party, Jimmie Akesson, gambled the equivalent of approximately US$70,000 online.
Immigration is becoming an increasingly hot issue in Sweden. Sweden currently grants automatic residence to all refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict. This year, approximately 80,000 people are expected to apply for asylum.
Analysts believe Sweden’s rising support for the Swedish Democrats stems from the party’s stance on immigration.
“Islamism is the Nazism and communism of our time. It has to be met with disgust and much stronger resistance than has so far been the case,” said Akesson in August on the issue of increasing Mulsim immigration.
Akesson has been vocal about his criticisms of what he has called “mass immigration.” He has stated that the labour market and school system are particularly affected by immigration.
The party is nationalist, but has stated that it maintains a zero tolerance policy towards racism.
Elsewhere in Europe, nationalist parties are also gaining popularity, such as France’s National Front, which moved into the political mainstream recently.
By Justin Blakely Munce