Right-wing Populism in Europe

In december 2018 I participated in a seminar in Brussels focusing on Right-populism . It was arranged by BAG Kirche & Rechtsextremismus, Diakonia and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and they later published a presentation of the whole seminar. This is a short version of what I said during my lecture:

”Journalist and author Anna-Lena Lodenius reported on developments
in Sweden, where the Sverigedemokraterna (Sweden Democrats) are not yet
in governmental power, but growing stronger. Since the election of 2018, they
are one of the three big parties, which makes it difficult to shape a political
majority without them – the Liberals would have to build a coalition with the
Social Democrats, which is a fairly new experience for Swedish government.
The Sweden Democrats have their roots in the Nazi-movement and were
more outspokenly racist in the past, but some years ago decided for reform
and now appear as more moderate, using new symbols (a blue flower)
and a new vocabulary. They also split apart from its youth organisation
Sverigedemokratisk Ungdom (SDU, Sweden Democratic Youth) because of its
more open racism and right-wing extremism. No local representatives of any
Nazi parties were elected. Still, they are very active in violence, crime, and
bullyboy tactics.
Nowadays, the Sweden Democrats present themselves as „the only true
opposition, because we are the only true people“. They took the old (social
democratic) concept of „Folkhemmet“ („the people’s home“) that constituted a
welfare program as well as a cultural and emotional idea of communal order
and solidarity – and revived it for their own agenda. They evoke the image of
the „Folkhem People“ who are helpful und cooperative. Though gender equality
is still considered as constitutive part of Swedish heritage, Sweden Democrats
are changing the debate in that as men and women are „marching together“
against feminism. Indeed, the number of women voting for the party is growing,
yet the Sweden Democrats are still the biggest party for working men.
2015 – as in other European countries as well – has been the „year of the
migrants“, having a huge impact on the rise of right-wing ideology in the
country. The Sweden Democrats stated he other parties were now „facing
reality“ after ignoring their warnings for a long time, and would now finally
close the borders.
Lodenius sees the need for the governing parties to adopt different strategies of
communicating with and about the Sweden Democrats: Instead of letting them
frame the political discussions, the Social Democrats as well as the Liberals
should engage with their own agendas and visions. They also should not only
pay attention to topics like immigration, but also on climate change and other
pressing issues of our times.”