Right-Wing Nationalism Comes to...Sweden?
As we look ahead to midterm elections, where election deniers are on the ballot in 27 states, it’s still mind-blowing to consider how we got here in just a few years. And the answer, most bluntly, is a rise in right-wing nationalism.
After lying dormant for some time, the contours of this new and arguably ascendant movement are by now well-known. There are many characteristics, most of which are deeply troubling if you’re a fan of democracy, including but not limited to:
A preference for national, religious and ethnic purity; an antipathy for migrants and immigrants; an open hostility to the press and a desire to punish critics; and an apologist or even approving approach to authoritarianism.
While all of that easily describes the right-wing nationalism stoked and nurtured by Donald Trump here in America, it also describes a stunning surge of authoritarianism in other countries, most notably Brazil and Hungary, where leaders Jair Bolsonaro and Viktor Orban, respectively, have puppeted Trump’s strong-arm nationalism to considerable success.
Elsewhere, from Boris Johnson and now Liz Truss in the U.K. to Marine Le Pen in France, right-wing nationalism is getting a bigger audience, not a smaller one.
This is disturbing enough. Whether in Latin America or Europe, an embrace of nationalism, and in some cases fascism, recalls some truly horrific moments in world history.
But what if I told you right-wing nationalism was also winning in some less expected places — say, Sweden?
Yes, the same Sweden that American liberals and progressives have long called an egalitarian utopia.
The same Sweden that consistently ranks among the happiest, the freest, the most liberal, friendliest to immigrants, freest for journalists, the least racist, and safest for LGBTQ travel countries in the world.
Last week, this same Sweden held general elections to elect the 349 members of the Riksdag, or legislature. The right-wing Sweden Democrats won a net gain of 11 new seats, for a total of 73, surpassing the moderates to make it the second-most popular party in the country behind the left-wing Social Democrats.