A Sharp Turn in Swedish Politics
When we recently discussed Europe’s refugee crisis, we mentioned that a sizable political backlash was to be expected and that unfortunately, extreme nationalist parties were likely to be among the main beneficiaries. We also mentioned the situation of Sweden, where the mainstream political parties in an ongoing fit of political correctness bordering on lunacy have apparently decided to transform Sweden into a province of Mesopotamia.
Leader of the nationalist Sweden Democrats, Jimmie Akesson
Photo credit: Frankie Fouganthin / CC
We now have an opportunity to draw these two threads of the narrative together, so to speak. In Sweden’s 2006 general election, the “Sweden Democrats”, a political party founded in 1988 and considered “right wing fringe” up to that point (it self-describes as “social conservative with a nationalist foundation”), managed to make large gains in a number of Swedish municipalities. In the 2010 national election, it finally crossed the 4% threshold needed to obtain seats in parliament, polling 5.7% (this gave it 20 seats).
In the 2014 election, the party received 12.9% of the vote, winning 49 seats (14% of the total). In Scania County, its share of the vote (22.16%) put it in the lead before one of the two major established mainstream parties for the first time. In the Riksdag, Sweden’s parliament, the Sweden Democrats are “isolated”, as the other parties refuse to cooperate with them in any shape or form. We suspect that this underdog role has actually solidified support for the SD as the “only alternative”.
Similar to France’s Front National, the SD’s (relatively young) leadership began “mainstreaming” the party by excluding members thought to hold too extremist views (back in the 1990s, a few members of the party were caught prancing about in Nazi uniforms, which is definitely not a sign of respectability). Without a doubt it has succeeded in creating a more moderate image. However, its old slogan “Bevara Sverige Svenskt” (Keep Sweden Swedish) remains in use.
“Brussels stay out of Sweden” – another sentiment that resonates ever more strongly with electorates across Europe.
Photo via makthavare.se
On August 20 of this year it became clear that “business as usual” is over for good in Sweden. This was the day when polls established for the first time that the SD was now the leading party in the country, receiving the support of more than 25% of voters (the poll question was: “which party would you vote for if elections were held today”).
Since yesterday, there can no longer be any doubt – as a result of their immigration policies, Sweden’s mainstream parties (the center-right and the socialists) are in danger of becoming “also-rans” real fast.
Swedish nationalist party, SD, score 27.3% in the latest poll making it the biggest party by a margin of 5.5% #winning
— Staffan (@Paradigmian) September 17, 2015
Oops! The former “right wing fringe” party that couldn’t even get into parliament is now beating the next largest party in Sweden by a 5.5% margin.
In spite of the fact that Sweden is an “extreme case” in a way, due to having been overrun by immigrants (mainly from Muslim countries), we believe that this poll is indicative of what is likely to happen all over Europe. Upcoming elections are going to be wake-up call that will likely invite a great deal of hand-wringing. Consider in this context that if France’s Front National were to win a national election, the euro would be dead.
Is it any wonder that the EU cannot agree on “refugee quotas”? Politicians everywhere know what is going to happen.
A Noteworthy Protest – the Social Mood Deteriorates
A few days ago there was a demonstration in Stockholm, ideologically aligned with the SD, but apparently not organized by it. The protesters called on the government to resign and call new elections due to its “mishandling of the immigration issue”. What makes it interesting are some of the comments made by protesters, which are quite informative with respect to the changing mood in the country. Apparently people in Sweden are really getting fed up by mainstream media propaganda and the top-down enforcement of political correctness in the country:
“A protest timed to coincide with the new term of the Swedish parliament has called on the government to resign in shame over their failure to manage mass immigration.[…]
Jan Sjunnesson, local teacher and author who this year organised the infamous LGBT march through Stockholm’s heavily Muslim areas which rendered left-wingers worldwide furious was one of the speakers. Sjunnesson told Breitbart London that a cosy “gentleman’s agreement ” had rendered the Sweden Democrats the only opposition party in Sweden. He said: “what we now have is seven parties, who have made this left-right bloc in December to oppose the Sweden Democrats”.
SD were last week frozen out of cross-party talks on how to deal with the migration crisis, the only political party with members of parliament in the country to not be invited.
The placards and badges worn at the event convey the general mood – one tells the Prime Minister to “resign or go to hell”. Another mocks Sweden’s right-wing and centre-right parties for getting into bed with the left wing and coalescing over mass migration.[…] […] many reacted with surprise to find a journalist at the event – the usual reaction of the Swedish media to such events is to smother them with a blanket of silence. When asked what must be done to save Sweden every response is the same – close the borders, and do it yesterday. […]
“The situation has gone too far. The old media lie about the ethnicity of rapists – recently there was a report about eight ‘Swedes’ who raped a native woman, but they weren’t Swedish. They didn’t even have Swedish citizenship, they just happened to live here. The media is lying, and I can’t stand by and do nothing any more.
“The government should resign their posts and let the people have a new election… the first thing a new government should do is to give more money to the police and the military, and close the borders.
“We should have more control over our borders, those people who genuinely need protection, who are fleeing from war, should be helped in Sweden. But if you take everyone, even the people who are violent to each other, you will start a war in Sweden too”.[…]
“If you attend left-wing rallies you don’t run any risk with your employer, the media, your friends, nobody will complain. If you go here, you run a risk. If you are a member of a union, you will get fired if they found out you’re here. I decided a few years ago I’ve had a good life and I need to stand up for something that is about more than just me… it is time for the Swedes to fight for their existence.
“We’ve not been to war in centuries, we’ve not been threatened or invaded in a very long time. The Finns and the Danes were occupied only a generation ago, we never experienced that. It has made us complacent, cozy – we’ve had social democrats looking after us for half a century. But now these things are eroding”.
A protest banner in Stockholm: Merkel, Loevfen (Sweden’s prime minister), Juncker, “traitors to the people”
Photo credit: Oliver Lane
One question is of course why the popularity of the SD has soared so enormously and quickly between 2006 and today, and especially since the 2010 election. After all, Sweden’s liberal immigration policies have been in place for quite some time. There has always been an undercurrent of people grumbling about them, but it was our impression that Sweden’s citizens have by and large always been on board with leftist political correctness.
While Sweden has been forced to backtrack on the extreme socialist policies that were once in force in order not to suffer irreversible economic decline, many basic socialist ideas have remained ingrained in the national psyche. It is surprising to see such a sudden shift toward support for a party that essentially represents the country’s far right.
We interpret this as a symptom of a general “social mood” shift that is discernible almost across the entire developed world these days. Feelings of harmony, togetherness, policies of inclusiveness, etc., are all expressions of a “bullish mood” – in other words, they are generally associated with economic booms and rising stock markets. The strong reaction to the refugee crisis signals the opposite: the underlying social mood has actually turned negative/bearish. This has a great many implications, including for future financial market and economic trends.
If we look back over the past two decades, it seems obvious in hindsight that the introduction of the euro – which coincided with the top of the technology bubble in developed stock markets – truly represented a major peak in optimism. Ever since, things have been going downhill. This fact has been temporarily masked by massive central bank money printing, which has driven asset prices to new nominal highs.
The refugee crisis is in this sense merely a trigger event that is in line with the underlying mass psychological trend and reminds us of its direction. Not everything about a negative social mood trend is bound to bad by the way – but on the whole, history suggests that a lot of bad things are likely to happen while it is playing out.
There is no easy solution to the refugee crisis – after all, even the SD’s supporters stress that they are in favor of helping genuine war refugees. Their protest against Sweden’s extremely liberal immigration policies doesn’t mean they have lost their basic humanity. The fact remains though that there is a major backlash underway, and it means that Europe’s political mainstream is going to lose even more ground.
As we have previously noted, this would be perfectly fine from our perspective, if not for the fact that the parties in Europe most likely to benefit from protest votes are either of the extreme leftist or the extreme nationalist variety. We are rather doubtful that their ascent represents an improvement.
To close out on a slightly more optimistic note: things are not completely hopeless – as the many citizenship applications for “Liberland” show, a great many people do yearn for an alternative promising a restoration of liberty (“restoration” in the sense of the liberty that was lost with the advent of the 20th century’s total wars).