Theodoros Benakis

‘White Book’ reveals the dark past of Sweden Democrats

Sweden Democrats website

Less than two months before the general elections of 11 September, Sweden Democrats published the first part of a “White Book”, a study on their own history from the foundation until 2010.

However, skeletons related to their history came out of the closet, and the party admitted that originally comprised Nazis, fascists, and skinheads.

“The Sweden Democrats have for several years had plans to launch a white paper project. Jimmie Åkesson [the leader, Ed.] announced the plans before the 2018 election and the starting point has been to be able to present an independent, research-based, review of the party’s history,” the party announced in a press release on 15 July 2022.

Their intention is to prove that the party has changed and is different today.

The party recruited university lecturer Tony Gustavsson in 2021. “Gustavsson’s work has been carried out independently without any party representative having been involved in the work,” according to the same press release.

And, it must be true if we consider his declarations to the press.

As reports, professor Gustavsson told Sweden’s TT newswire the party was the result of the unification of different groups in 1988.

One came from the fascist New Swedish Movement, another from the skinhead movement, and some members had neo-Nazi links.

According to the conservative daily Svenska Dagbladet, “at least one in three of the founders of the Sweden Democrats is linked to Nazism or fascism.”

The White Book mentions 30 people from the founding generation who played a leading role in Stockholm, Malmö, and Gothenburg.

During the last ten years, part of the Swedish society has been mesmerised by the rhetoric of the Sweden Democrats, who violently copied from other European far-right parties hate speech, anti-immigration, and xenophobic slogans. The party is now the third largest party in Sweden.

However, Sweden Democrats minimize the political importance of the findings.

“In the report, around 30 people are identified as participating in the formation of the party in various ways, but it will be difficult to draw any clear conclusions about the importance of different people,” according to the SD press release.

“The report provides no support that the party was part of a movement linked to fascism… While the report has great historical value, the political value is non-existent. It is not possible to use the report to draw any conclusions about how to view the party that entered the Riksdag in 2010.”

The second part of the report will be ready at the end of 2022 beginning of 2023 and will include an analysis of the ideological development of Sweden Democrats.

Racist roots

For more than 20 years, Sweden Democrats have been trying to revise their image, hide their real political identity and present themselves as a party aimed to protect Swedish values and national interests.

The party emerged in 1988 from the dark world of white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups. In 1988, at least two founding members were directly related to neo-Nazism. The first auditor of the party was a Waffen-SS veteran and a former member of the national-socialist party and the first chairman was a member of the Nordic Reich Party. Members wearing Nazi uniforms during party meetings was not a rare occurrence.

The party is a direct descendant of the racist organisation Bevara Sverige Svenskt (BSS, “Keep Sweden Swedish”) which was active in the 1980s. Sweden Democrats used the BSS slogan “Keep Sweden Swedish”, in the 2000s.

However, in 1995, a significant change occurred. Over the next couple of years, the party worked more on lifting its image by abandoning the European far-right family and expelling radical members. Their new leader, the 39-year-old Jimmy Åkesson, the party leader since 2005, tried hard to convince public opinion of that. In 2006, the neo-Fascist torch symbol was replaced by a ‘happy’ design of an Anemone hepatica flower.

In 2010, the party succeeded to enter Riksdag, the parliament, with 5.7% and 20 seats. Two years later in new elections, they won 12.9% of the vote and secured 49 seats.

Under the new leader, Sweden Democrats directed their action against minority groups of the Swedish society as Sami people and Jews. The party wants, among other things, measures against the indigenous people to abolish the Sami parliament.

[The leader of Sweden Democrats Jimmie Åkesson speaks at a party rally, July 2015. FLICKR/PER PETTERSSON/CC BY 2.0]

By using fake news, they criminalised Muslims and migrants. They repeat again and again that Sweden was safer before the 2015 refugee wave and that crime grew after the 165,000 refugees the country received. However, police data contradict them.

In addition, since 2010, a large number of their elected municipal representatives resigned due to racist comments and actions.

Their policy aims to topple the entire ‘Swedish model’. They want a strong limitation on abortions, oppose adoption rights for single people or same-sex couples, and claim to be targets of a “Homosexual Lobby”. Sweden Democrats favour nuclear power plants as an energy source and they want to increase defence spending. It is not a surprise that they do not hide their aversion to the EU, and they reject both its values and structures.

However, the party avoided joining the traditional far-right family of the Democracy and Identity Group in the European Parliament, which includes the Italian League party, the French National Rally, and the Austrian Freedom Party, among others. SD opted for the “soft” far-right European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group, which comprises, among others, the ultraconservative Polish PiS, Brothers of Italy, a party with neofascist origins, and the Spanish anti-immigration VOX.

Sweden Democrats still attract voters

“The so-called refugee crisis of 2015 then spiraled this process completely out of control and larger and larger segments of the electorate were under the impression that the so-called ‘system-collapse’ was imminent,” Professor Andreas Önnerfors said in an interview with European Interest published in 21 February 2020.

Sweden Democrats “bought and buy into conspiratorial narratives of traitorous domestic elites who are selling out the social stability of Sweden to ‘globalist’ interests. SD has capitalized on the situation by styling itself as the ultimate representation of the ‘people’s home’, the social democratic vision of a consolidated Swedish society where access to welfare is based on notions of ‘nationhood’,” he added.

Sweden Democrats still remain in third place behind the ruling Social Democratic Party and the liberal-conservative Moderate Party. The latest poll (8–11 Jul 2022) indicates 31.5% for the Social Democrats, 18.5% for the Moderates, and 16.6% for Sweden Democrats.

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