Leading article: The rise of the far right

Share
Related Topics

One can take the results of Sweden's indecisive election in several ways. One can mark the continued success of the centre right in the county. One can see in the result more evidence of the decline of the Social Democrats, the party which has dominated Swedish politics ever since the Second World War. One can characterise the stalemate resulting from the voting result as the latest in a long line of indecisive European election results. Or one can record the grim signs that in Scandinavia too, the far right is claiming its place in the spectrum of power, with all that this augurs for the future of race relations and social stability in the coming years.

All these interpretations contain an element of truth, although it is easy to exaggerate change in a society as essentially consensual as Sweden. But it is, inevitably, the rise of the far right that will seize most attention in the outside world. The success of the anti-immigration party, the Sweden Democrats, in getting more than 5 per cent of the votes and gaining 20 seats in the new parliament, comes on top of a succession of far right, anti-Islamic, breakthroughs in the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Norway and Switzerland.

Overall, their share of the vote is still relatively modest. And it is premature to make comparisons with the rise of fascism in Europe between the wars. But at a time of finely-balanced results in European elections, even a small share of seats can give the far right considerable influence, as they have in the Netherlands and Italy. And the rise of these parties reflects a real and growing concern amongst many white voters of the effect of immigration on their jobs and their traditional society. Economic recession and rapidly increasing joblessness – including in Sweden – serve to exacerbate a disquiet that has been gathering pace for some time (more so in societies, such as Holland and Sweden, traditionally regarded as tolerant).

To his credit, Sweden's prime minister and winner of this election, Fredrik Reinfeldt, has rejected any coalition that brings the Sweden Democrats into power. But, with the Greens firmly against any coalition with Mr Reinfeldt, the path ahead will not be easy.

Anti-immigration parties are now part of the political landscape of Europe, in Britain as elsewhere, and politicians from the traditional parties are going to have to take note of this democratic challenge. One thing is clear: to deny this reality would be a terrible mistake.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a visit to Scottish Widows offices in Edinburgh, where he made an impassioned plea to keep Scotland part of the union, saying he would be  

David Cameron did the right thing, so why does Scotland’s vote feel like a defeat?

John Rentoul
 

i Editor's Letter: The rules were simple: before the results are announced, don’t mention the S-word

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week