Sweden’s Populist Surge
by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
August 26, 2015
This text differs slightly from the Washington Times version.
Muslim immigration has changed the face of Sweden.
According to the most recent poll, the innocuously-named but ferociously anti-establishment Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna or SD) has the largest support of any political party in Sweden. This news has potentially momentous implications not just for Sweden but for all Europe.
Sweden is a special place. One of the richest and most peaceful countries in the world (it has not been engaged in armed conflict for two centuries), until recently it was a remarkably homogenous society where socialism, with its optimistic assumption that people are born good and circumstances make them bad, worked and the government enjoyed great prestige. Swedish pride in the country’s accomplishments translates into an ethical superiority symbolized by the oft-heard claim to be a „moral superpower.“
The Sweden Democrats logo reads „Security & Tradition.“
This heritage has also inspired an intolerance of dissent, however; „Be quiet, follow the consensus, let the bureaucrats carry it out.“ The country has become so notorious for its stifling faux-unanimity that I actually heard a Dane recently ask at a public forum, „Why has Sweden turned into the North Korea of Scandinavia?“
Swedish history militates against hard-headed, flexible responses to problems.
Also, Sweden’s history creates a no-crisis mentality that militates against the hard-headed, flexible responses needed to cope with current problems the country now faces, especially those connected to waves of mainly Muslim immigrants. As one interlocutor put it to me in Stockholm earlier this month, „Past success has led to current failure.“ For example, security in Sweden is well below what might find in a country like Bolivia, with few inclinations to make improvements, rendering Islamist violence all but inevitable.
In this stultification, the SD stands out because it offers the only political alternative. Proof of this came in December 2014, when the SD appeared to have the swing vote in a crucial budget vote between the left and right blocs in the country’s unicameral legislature, the Riksdag – until all the other seven parties joined together in a grand coalition to deny it any influence.
As this act of desperation suggests, the Sweden Democrats offer a populist – and not, as usually described, a „far right“ – brew of policies anathema to all the legacy parties: Foremost, it calls for assimilating legal immigrants, expelling the illegals, and reducing future immigration by at least 90 percent. It also forwards a number of other policies (concerning crime, defense, the European Union, and Israel) far outside the Swedish consensus and utterly obnoxious to the other parties.