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Swedish Unexceptionalism

Sweden's Elections Show That a Strong Far Right Is Europe's New Normal

Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Akesson on election night in Stockholm, September 2018. TT News Agency / Reuters

As Sweden’s election results came in around midnight on Sunday, almost all of the country’s major parties were feeling like winners. The ruling Social Democrats were pleased simply because they did not collapse completely, as their brethren have done in the Netherlands and Germany. Although their 28.4 percent of the vote was nearly three percentage points below their 2014 result, they remained the single-largest party in the country. Their current coalition partner, the Greens, was relieved not to fall out of parliament. And the center-right Moderates, despite their vote share dropping from 23.3 to 19.8 percent, were happy because they remained Sweden’s second-largest party.

By contrast, the far-right Sweden Democrats, whose vote share had grown by 4.7 percent since the last elections, celebrated very little. The party, which ran on a nationalist, anti-immigration platform, got close to one-fifth of the vote: 17.6 percent, up from 12.9 percent in 2014. This was far less than the 20

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