Sweden’s elections are normally dull affairs. The same political arrangements have been in place for decades, featuring mild oscillations around the centre between the green-red bloc (Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left Party) and the conservative Alliance (the Moderates, Christian Democrats and the Centre and Liberal Parties).
The favoured line for political watchers of Sweden is standard. Few monumental disagreements have registered since Sweden became a model free-education welfare state with impeccable health services funded by high taxes. But Europe has caught a rash, and it has become something of a contagion. The symptoms are clear enough: consternation at Brussels at the centralising European machinery; concerns about immigration; apoplexy about perceptions of rising crime; and the corrosions posed to the once seemingly impregnable welfare state.
Sweden’s own contribution to such fears comes in the form of Jimmie Åkesson of the Sweden Democrats, a person who reminds the observer of fascist politics that appearances, and the aesthetic of appeal, matter. Last Sunday’s elections saw the SD do well, garnering 42 of the 342 seats in the Riksdag.
While his party was nursed in the bosom of neo-Nazi politics in the 1980s, Åkesson has spruced matters up, giving the impression that slickness and modern looks are somehow contradictory to reactionary politics. (Parallels are evident in the cosmetic adjustments made to the Front National in…