Last week, after having been in office for exactly two months and one day, Sweden's government collapsed. Apart from the Palestinians, hardly anyone will regret the fall of Prime Minister Stefan Löfven's government. The only thing Löfven's cabinet will be remembered for is its slamming of Israel by recognizing the Palestinian state.
Following last September's general elections, Mr. Löfven, a Social-Democrat, formed a minority government of the Social-Democrats and the Greens. Immediately after its formation, the Red-Green minority coalition recognized "Palestine."
During the past decades, the arrival of thousands of radical Islamic immigrants has led to a rise of anti-Semitism in Sweden. The immigrants, having acquired Swedish citizenship, are catered to by Sweden's leftist parties. Prominent Social-Democrats denounce Zionism as racism and declare that ISIS is being trained by the Mossad. Mr. Löfven's Green Minister for Urban Development has even advocated the "liberation of Jerusalem" from Israel.
Once it had recognized "Palestine" as a state, the Löfven government turned to the urgent matter of Sweden's 2015 budget. Unable to reach an agreement on the budget, the government collapsed and announced new general elections for next March. As many Swedes have grown sick and tired of a political elite giving in to Islamic demands, it is generally expected that the country's anti-immigration party, the Sweden Democrats [SD], will do very well in the next elections.
The Sweden Democrats are one of Sweden's youngest parties. They entered Parliament for the first time in 2010 with 5.7% of the vote. Last September, SD became Sweden's third party with 12.9% of the vote. The SD want to stop immigration and turn the tide of Islamization. Although the party was founded in 1988 by neo-Nazis, it was taken over at the beginning of this century by a group of Conservative students. In 2005, the then 26-year old Jimmy Åkesson became party leader. Mr. Åkesson reformed the party and ousted everyone with racist, fascist or neo-Nazi sympathies. Under his charismatic leadership, the SD have continuously gained in the polls.
The public face of the Sweden Democrats is charismatic party leader Jimmy Åkesson (right).
The party might well end up after the elections as the kingmaker of Swedish politics -- a party whose support will be needed by both the Left and the Right if they want to be able to form a government. As the leftist parties will in all likelihood not be prepared to team up with a party that aims to restrict immigration, Sweden's next government will probably be a Conservative minority coalition with SD support. In return for its support, the SD could demand tougher immigration policies and perhaps also the reversal of the recognition of Palestine as a state.
There are, however, a few problems that could cause trouble for the Sweden Democrats. The past nine years have taken their toll on the party's young leader. Mr. Åkesson, suffering from burnout, fell ill after last September's general elections and has not yet fully recovered. No one knows when he will resume his functions. Unfortunately, as is the situation with similar parties elsewhere, Mr. Åkesson is the only SD politician who is known across the country. He is the face of SD in the same way that the indomitable Nigel Farage is the face of the United Kingdom Independence Party [UKIP] in Britain.
The other SD politicians tend to be rather parochial. One of the few exceptions is Kent Ekeroth, a member of the Swedish Parliament and the SD politician responsible for the party's foreign contacts. Ekeroth is Jewish, and a staunch defender of Israel and an opponent of the recognition of Palestine. Last summer, however, when Mr. Ekeroth had the opportunity to hire a renowned European Conservative, with many international contacts on both sides of the Atlantic, as an advisor for the SD group in the European Parliament, mediocre elements thwarted the effort.
Another looming danger is that some within the party might be tempted to soften the party line in order to become "more acceptable" to the traditional parties on the right -- as happened within the Danish People's Party [DF] in Denmark. This anti-immigration party used to be extremely critical of Islam. The DF became the power broker in Denmark, and supported a number of conservative minority governments. The establishment parties on the right, however, never allowed the DF to become a full member of any government coalition. There are indications that the new party leadership has embarked on a policy aiming to direct the party towards the center.
In the European Parliament, the Danish People's Party used to be part of an international alliance with Britain's UKIP. Last June, it left the group around UKIP to join an alliance around the British Conservative Party. This alliance, led by the British Member of the European Parliament Syed Kamall, favors the admission of Turkey to the European Union -- a policy that the DF have so far vehemently opposed. The group is even affiliated with the Islamic AK Party of Turkey. As group leader Syed Kamall, a Muslim, said: "the Danish People's Party is on a political journey."
Unfortunately, political parties sometimes seem to take their electorate for granted, embarking on "political journeys" that their voters do not want. It takes some time before voters realize what is going on, but in the end, they invariably do.