By Simon Johnson | 8 September 2018
REUTERS — Swedes vote on Sunday in a tight election dominated by fears over asylum and welfare, with the populist, anti-immigration Sweden Democrats vying to become the biggest party in a country long seen as a bastion of economic stability and liberal values.
Far-right parties have made spectacular gains throughout Europe in recent years following a refugee crisis sparked by civil war in Syria and ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and parts of Africa.
In Sweden, the influx of 163,000 asylum seekers in 2015 has polarized voters, fractured the cozy political consensus and could give the Sweden Democrats, a party with roots in the neo-Nazi fringe, a veto over which parties form the next government.
“Traditional parties have failed to respond to the sense of discontent that exists,” Magnus Blomgren, a social scientist at Umea University.
“That discontent maybe isn’t directly related to unemployment or the economy, but simply a loss of faith in the political system. Sweden isn’t alone in this.” […]