In Brief

Why the far-right is surging in Sweden

EU’s most liberal country could be next to face populist earthquake, analysts suggest

A huge increase in gang violence has led to a surge in support for the far-right in Sweden ahead of an election in September.

Dozens of people have been killed over the past two years by gangs mostly from run-down suburbs dominated by immigrants. The latest attack came last week, when four men were shot dead and three wounded in Sweden’s third-largest city, Malmo.

The rise in violence, which has been linked to Sweden’s liberal “open-door” policies, has “stirred anti-immigration sentiment” in the country, reports Reuters, “putting a far-right party on course for big gains in one of Europe’s most liberal countries”.

Sweden Democrats, who are campaigning to freeze all immigration and to hold a referendum on Sweden’s membership of the EU, are now polling at 20%, behind the Social Democrats but ahead of the main opposition Moderates.

The rise of a party which Reuters says has “neo-Nazi roots”, has sparked widespread alarm among Sweden’s mainstream politicians, many of whom have started moving to the right on crime and immigration to try to counter the threat posed by Sweden Democrats.

It is also causing concern in Brussels, which has seen anti-immigrant nationalist parties make huge gains across Europe in the wake of the migrant crisis.

Rightwing parties have effectively become the main opposition in France and Germany following elections last year, while anti-EU, anti-immigrant parties make up some or all of their respective governments in Italy, Austria, Hungary and Poland.

While all major Swedish parties have ruled out working with the Sweden Democrats after the 9 September election, a strong showing at the polls could see them emerge as kingmakers, forcing whoever forms the next government to adopt a more hardline immigration stance.

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