The problem with xenophobic parties in the Nordic region is that all promote social exclusion and more social exclusion.
If the elections in Sweden weren’t a preview of the political path of the Nordic region, the April elections in Finland confirmed it. In both countries, parties that base their support on suspicion of minorities and migrants fared well.
Apart from such a recipe for election success in Sweden and Finland, the Sweden Democrats, a party with neo-Nazi roots, and the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* were helped and given political legitimacy by a mainstream conservative party: the Moderates and National Coalition Party (Kokoomus).
If we were to look at how anti-immigration and anti-diversity views take root in the Nordic region, Denmark offers us a case in point.
National Coalition Party head Petteri Orpo and PS’ Riikka Purra in the background. Nordic mainstream parties like Kokoomus have enabled and normalized anti-immigration parties like the PS.
At the beginning of this century, we saw the rise of the staunchly Islamophobic Danish People’s Party (DPP), which influenced politics so that the country turned into one of the most hostile countries for Muslims in the EU.
The DDP, like the Sweden Democrats, could eat and have their racist cakes simultaneously through minority governments.
But in 2019, the Social Democrats, under the leadership of Mette Frederiksen scored a huge victory, with the DPP losing 21 seats. What was the lesson learned? If traditional parties use the same anti-immigration rhetoric as populist parties, they can win elections.
The Danish example suggests that if Sweden and Finland want to deflate the popularity of their Islamophobic parties, they should follow what the Social Democrats did in Denmark.
The other opinion, hoped by some, is to allow the PS to form a government and see how well they come through with their promises. It may mean a nosedive in support.
Polish human rights lawyer Eliza Ruynowski warned Finns in an interview with the Finnish League of Human Rights. “I would urge every Finn to question simple answers to difficult questions. Be wary of those who claim to solve the problem by blaming a group of people – whether it is a minority or those with different political ideas.”
Recently at an Islamophobia conference in Ankara, Turkey, I asked the crowd how a country that won for a sixth consecutive time the title of the happiest country on Earth may have such a big racist party.
Silence responded to my question.
The rise of hostile political parties and public discourse against minorities and migrants reveals how Nordic countries have failed to create social equality.