Sweden No Longer Immune to Rise of Nationalist Populism

Sweden No Longer Immune to Rise of Nationalist Populism
Neo-nazis, rightwing extremists and white supremacists march under police supervision on their annual demonstration in memory of a young skinhead who was killed in 2000, Dec. 11, 2010 (AP Photo by Fredrik Persson, file).

Rising immigration, failed integration and the violent radicalization of a small minority of young Muslims have fueled the ascent of populist parties across Europe. Sweden is not immune, although it is different from its neighbors. Of all the Nordic countries, Sweden has the highest proportion of immigrants, and yet it has consistently registered the lowest level of support for nationalist, anti-immigration parties. That Swedish exceptionalism, however, is unlikely to last given the high levels of immigration and ongoing problems with integration.

Despite having less than 2 percent of the European Union’s population, Sweden last year took in almost 20 percent of the EU’s asylum seekers. Sweden has long had a generous approach to asylum seekers and immigrants, reflected in the fact that 15 percent of the population was born abroad and over 30 percent below the age of 18 were either born abroad or have at least one parent who was.

But the magnitude of Sweden’s immigrant community has created integration challenges. According to a recent study by the New Welfare Foundation, the number of “deprived” residential areas—defined as having a higher than 40 percent unemployment rate and a higher than 30 percent high school dropout rate—is rising. In 1990, there were three such areas in Sweden; by 2012 there were 186. Sweden’s inflexible labor market and shortcomings in the education system contribute to such high unemployment rates in certain immigrant communities. Episodes of violent protests, such as days of rioting last year in a number of suburbs across the country triggered by a police shooting, have put the issue of failed integration in the spotlight.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review