The upcoming Swedish general election September 9 will be more upsetting to the establishment than many of the old guard care to admit. Two immigration-skeptic parties, Sweden Democrats (SD) and Alternative for Sweden (AfS) are set for having their best elections ever.
In recent polls, SD has been clocking in at around 25%, and if the results hold up on election day, they will be Sweden’s biggest party. AfS, who is even less happy about immigration, is more difficult to assess, but some polls indicate that they will reach 3% or more. That may not seem like much, but it hasn’t been many years since SD did no better and look at them now.
Not all is well in Sweden though. For the first time, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has sent election observers to the Scandinavian country due to concerns of illegitimate election procedures.
Sweden is the only developed nation in Europe that does not have entirely secret elections by design. Before you enter the voting booth, you must first pick the voting slip for your preferred party in a public area, meaning anyone can see for whom you intend to vote.
A spokesperson for OSCE, Thomas Rymer, told Denmark’s Radio: “During the voting procedure it should be one’s choice alone. Others must not have influence. That’s a basic principle of a democratic election.”
This type of semi-public voting is particularly of concern for voters of anti-immigration parties like SD and AfS because they are often treated with contempt and subject to severe social ostracism, not unlike how Trump supporters often have to take the heat in the U.S.
Only a week before the election, the mayor of Stockholm, Karin Wanngård, canceled the election campaign ending of AfS: “Our city venues should not be open to those who want to hurt our democracy.”
This action by the Stockholm Mayor demonstrates the severity of the situation in Sweden and the current weakness of its democratic institutions. The party has responded that they will not respect the banning and continue the election campaign as planned because they are a legal party and preventing them from campaigning in public is an attack on democracy.
So far, the Stockholm authorities have only achieved giving Alternative for Sweden a lot of media attention.
Center of Attention
Immigration is such a hot topic in Sweden that the entire election debate is centered around it. All the establishment parties talk about is how to avoid SD from getting any political influence.
It is easy to dismiss the Sweden Democrats as bigoted and extreme, but if they end up as the largest party after the election, the country’s elite will slowly have to realize that a significant portion of Swedes – and immigrants – have rejected their reckless immigration policies. Whether that will impact their behavior in parliament remains to be seen.