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As the nationalist, anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats claimed their best result yet in Sweden’s parliamentary elections in September, the nation’s newspapers went bold with their headlines. “Chaos,” read the front pages, in all caps, of the two largest tabloids. Dagens Industri, a financial newspaper, called the outcome “a political earthquake.” But the subject of their worry was not the rise of the Sweden Democrats, the latest party to surf Europe’s anti-establishment populist wave. Instead, it was the utter fragmentation of the country’s political landscape.
That few focused their attention on the far-right party’s performance—it gained seats but still came in third behind the center-right bloc and the ruling center-left coalition—speaks to its normalization. By the time voters went to the polls Sunday, the Sweden Democrats had already drastically reshaped the political climate. Immigration, once the exclusive rallying cry of the Sweden Democrats, dominated much of the pre-election debate in a country renowned for its humanitarian values. Over 160,000 asylum-seekers arrived in 2015, adding to a population that has rapidly grown more diverse. Of Sweden’s current population of 10 million, 18 percent were born abroad. Changing demographics are not new to Sweden—just ask the indigenous Sami population—but never before have they influenced an election like this one.
Source: World Politics Review
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