The extreme right-wing Sverigedemokraterna, the ‘Swedish Democrats’, emerges from the elections with 20% of the vote, the second largest political force in the country. Åkesson’s party in the Europarliament sits in the political family of the European Conservatives: the Swedish extreme right has now crossed all boundaries. Because of its neo-Nazi roots, Sverigedemokraterna had been kept at a distance from the moderate right until the previous election, whereas now it is an integral part of the right-wing coalition, in which it plays a leading role and cohabits with the Moderate Party: today, in Europe, the centre-right that calls itself moderate has lost its inhibitions towards the extreme right. Manfred Weber, president of the European People’s Party (EPP) and leader of the People’s Party group in the European Parliament, claimed three years ago that Viktor Orbán’s right-wing was indigestible. Since then Weber has led a tactical alliance with the European conservative family (with ‘Fratelli d’Italia’, with the Polish ultraconservatives of ‘Pis’ and with the ‘Swedish Democrats’): after the election of Maltese nationalist Roberta Metsola (EPP) as president of the EU Parliament and the electoral agreement with the conservatives (Ecr) Weber’s centre-right did not hesitate to vote together with the sovereignists. The dike also broke in Stockholm: Ulf Kristersson is the leader of the Swedish Moderate Party, which belongs to the European People’s Party family, and is the face of the right-wing coalition. He ran for the leadership of the country in 2018, but at the time he defended the levees against the extreme right, without coming to terms with Åkesson. However, while the extreme right swelled in support, his party, Moderaterna, lost it: compared to 2014, Moderates lost more than three points, close to 20%, while the extreme right gained five points, reaching almost 18%. If four years ago it proved impracticable for Kristersson to form a government, the following year the Moderates changed their strategy: Kristersson started working on an agreement with the extreme right that led to the current electoral coalition. Together with the extreme ‘Democrats’, the Moderates and Liberals contest the government with the centre-left of the outgoing premier, Social Democrat Magdalena Andersson: the country is split in two, the results are ‘too close to call’. The embrace between the moderate and extreme right entails a U-turn on both sides: the EPP has forgotten the ‘cordon sanitaire’, and parties such as the ‘Sweden Democrats’ are cleaning up their image in order to obtain the patent as a governing force. Åkesson has abandoned the idea of a ‘Svexit’, which he advocated until three years ago, and during the war in Ukraine he positioned himself for Sweden’s entry into the Atlantic Alliance. For a decade now he has been working on the normalisation of his party and says he is fighting racism and extremism, even if elements of the neo-Nazi, xenophobic and Islamophobic nature of Sverigedemokraterna remain: researchers from the Swedish agency ‘Acta Publica’ analysed the biographies of the candidates and found an overwhelming majority of them with links (current or past) to the most extreme right-wing circles.
European Union, NATO, Politics, Scandinavia, Stockholm, Sweden