In what seems to be a rising trend in support for far-right politics, with Sebastian Kurz’s victory on an anti-immigration platform in the Austrian snap elections on October 15 and an increase in votes for far-right parties in Germany, support for Scandinavian far-right groups has also surged. Swedish far-right groups hope to make significant gains in Sweden’s 2018 presidential elections.
One of the most important demonstrations of the surprising vitality of Nazism and far-right groups in Scandinavia is the Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR). Originally founded in 1997, the group has since spread to Norway, Finland, and Denmark. The Swedish branch held one of its largest-ever rallies in Gothenburg, where neo-Nazis and antifascists violently clashed, ultimately resulting in dozens of arrests.
Among the group’s primary concerns are the waves of non-white immigrants coming to Sweden and other northern European countries that, in their view, threaten the livelihoods of ethnic Swedes.
The NMR used to be a radical fringe group with little support. Recently, however, their messages have become more attractive as migrants begin to pour into Europe. Sweden is expected to accept 190,000 migrants, which is two percent of its current population and twice the per-capita figure of Germany. The NMR platform resonates with some who are concerned about perceived economic strains from immigration, such as possible effects on Sweden’s extensive welfare system.
In response to the rise of extreme parties, some such as the governing Social Democrat Party have considered outlawing the NMR. More centrist Swedish politicians are terrified of giving ground to fascist groups and are trying to politically isolate them. For example, the Sweden Democrats, a right-wing nationalist party, is now the third-largest party in the Swedish Riksdag, but they remain politically isolated because of the other parties’ refusal to cooperate or form a coalition with them.
The increasing popularity and strength of the NMR is largely a result of the larger political themes sweeping through Europe. It is possible that the right-wing groups supported by the NMR will be soundly defeated in the 2018 Swedish elections, though Nordic nationalists remain encouraged by current European political sentiments.