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How the Right Triumphed in Sweden

The far-right Sweden Democrats surged in popularity—and helped propel Sweden’s right-wing bloc to victory.

By , a reporter at Foreign Policy.
Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Akesson delivers a speech at the party's election watch in Nacka, near Stockholm, on Sept. 11.
Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Akesson delivers a speech at the party's election watch in Nacka, near Stockholm, on Sept. 11.
Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Akesson delivers a speech at the party's election watch in Nacka, near Stockholm, on Sept. 11. JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Sweden’s shifting political landscape, U.S. security assistance to Taiwan, and Mexico’s arrest of a retired general

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Right-Wing Bloc Wins Sweden’s Elections

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Sweden’s shifting political landscape, U.S. security assistance to Taiwan, and Mexico’s arrest of a retired general

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Right-Wing Bloc Wins Sweden’s Elections

Sweden’s political landscape is undergoing a seismic shift after a right-wing bloc won the country’s elections this week, narrowly defeating Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson’s center-left coalition.

The victorious bloccomposed of the Sweden Democrats as well as the Moderate Party, Liberals, and Christian Democrats—ultimately won three more parliamentary seats than Andersson’s coalition. They were propelled to victory by the far-right Sweden Democrats, who secured more than one-fifth of votes and are now Sweden’s second-biggest party, despite a historically extremist reputation and neo-Nazi origins. 

Negotiations are now underway to form a new center-right government that will be headed by the Moderate Party, as the bloc previously decided. But experts say the Sweden Democrats are also poised to hold greater sway in shaping the future of Swedish politics, given the party’s clear popularity during the elections. 

“Because the Sweden Democrats are so phenomenally strengthened, actually power moves not just from one side to the other side of the political divide—it moves quite significantly to the right,” said Elisabeth Braw, an FP columnist and a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

It’s not clear whether they will be invited to be part of the government, but either way they would have a major role in parliament,” she added.

As issues of gang violence and immigration dominated the election, the Sweden Democrats vowed to drastically curb immigration, rattling civil society and immigrant communities. Jimmie Akesson, the leader of the Sweden Democrats, has pledged to “make Sweden good again.” 

Writing in Foreign Policy, Braw argued that the Swedish left’s negative campaigning ultimately helped catapult their opponents to victory. “Their fascist-scare rhetoric propelled the far-right Sweden Democrats to a stunning result … and helped the center-right bloc win an unexpected victory,” she wrote. 

After the election results became clear, Andersson announced her resignation on Thursday. Ulf Kristersson, the leader of the Moderate Party, is now set to create the country’s new government in a lengthy process expected to take weeks. 

“We have an election result. We have the mandate for change we asked for,” Kristersson said Wednesday. “I will now begin the process of forming a new government for Sweden and all its citizens.”


What We’re Following Today

Military support for Taiwan. The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has advanced a bill to dedicate $6.5 billion in military support to Taiwan, a move that drew criticism from Beijing. Chinese officials said the bill conveyed a “serious false signal to the separatist forces of Taiwan independence,” as Reuters reported

Mexico’s arrests. The Mexican government has arrested four people over the 2014 abduction and disappearance of 43 students from Iguala, Mexico, including a retired army general who oversaw a military base in Iguala at the time. Last month, a government truth commission declared that the case had been a “crime of the state.”

“At all times the federal, state and municipal authorities had knowledge of the students’ movements,” the commission reported. “Their actions, omissions and participation allowed for the disappearance and execution of the students, as well as the murder of six other people.”


Keep an Eye On

Russian strikes in Ukraine. Ukrainian officials said they were able to contain flooding in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine—President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hometown—after a Russian attack on a dam inundated the city’s streets with water, flooded homes, and forced others to evacuate.

“Beaten by [the] Ukrainian army on the battlefield, Russian cowards are now at war with our critical infrastructure and civilians,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted afterward. “Russia is a terrorist state and must be recognized as such.”

Nigeria’s spiraling inflation. Nigeria’s inflation rates soared to a painful 20.5 percent in August—the highest level in 17 years—as shockwaves from the Russia-Ukraine war compound the country’s ongoing economic challenges. 


Thursday’s Most Read

Russia Is Supplying Ukraine With Lightly Used Tanks by Jack Detsch

Putin Has a New Opposition—and It’s Furious at Defeat in Ukraine by Alexey Kovalev

Queen Elizabeth II Wasn’t Innocent of Her Empire’s Sins by Howard W. French


Odds and Ends 

From former British Chancellor Rishi Sunak to Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, world leaders have long given U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellena rumored dedicated stamp collectorrare stamps as gifts.

There’s just one problem: Yellen doesn’t actually like stamps as much as everyone thinks she does, despite being bequeathed her mother’s collection. “Stamps really don’t mean anything to Janet at all,” her brother, John Yellen, told the Wall Street Journal. “That collection is basically forgotten. It’s sitting in a safe deposit box. … I guess at some point it will be passed down.”

She actually prefers rocks, a fascination that started after visiting the American Museum of Natural History in New York as a child. So far, only Canadian officials have gotten it right: They gave her a hunk of limestone that weighed 10 pounds. 

Christina Lu is a reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @christinafei

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