The country's immigration and energy policies provide a model for conservatives
There is a silent revolution taking place in Europe: Right-wing populists are learning how to actually wield power. Though Italy’s Giorgia Meloni has been making headlines for her tackling of issues from welfare state reforms to new immigration policies, it is the less high-profile case of Sweden which has proven even more dramatic. The Right-wing Sweden Democrats are not officially part of the government, yet under the “Tidö Agreement” they are a crucial supporter and guarantor of parliamentary majorities for the centre-right government of Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.
In recent days, the country’s parliament has decided to lift a ban on uranium mining and presented a policy plan to double electricity production over the next 20 years. This comes hot on the heels of discovering massive rare earth deposits, and one can easily imagine that the new enthusiasm for uranium will quickly extend to these crucial resources as well.
Sweden is evidently willing to break with EU dogma on the environment: in June it abandoned the 100% renewables goal and reversed the decades-long policy of phasing out nuclear power. In addition, an offshore wind farm has been rejected and the construction of at least 10 new nuclear reactors announced, marking a seismic shift in the country’s energy policy.
Sweden’s leadership, as with many Right-of centre governments, was swept into power largely thanks to its stance on immigration. Gang violence in cities has been rampant for years, with unassimilated immigrants comprising a significant part of the problem. On average, one gang-related shooting takes place almost every day, a sad record for a country usually known for safety and tranquillity.
In fact, the country’s immigration policy was so out of balance that in 2015 the ratio of boys to girls was 123 to 100 among 15 and 16-year-olds. This mismatch was greater than in the same age group in China — meaning that Swedish immigration managed to create within a few years the same demographic problems that resulted from several decades of China’s one-child policy. Shortly after coming to power, the new government embarked on a policy of tighter immigration policies, including an international campaign to discourage would-be immigrants and asylum seekers from coming to Sweden.
In the economic realm, the government plans to push for tax cuts, and has proposed an industrial policy that goes beyond the Franco-German preference for subsidies. This also underlines the new Swedish approach to energy policy, demonstrating a keen understanding of the connection between affordable electricity and its effect on industry. The Nordic countries have often been described as charting a “third way” between socialism and capitalism, a tradition that isn’t going away. This time, however, the country is also championing a newfound realism when it comes to energy and immigration policies.
Witnessing this success, European Right-wing parties — especially Germany’s AfD and France’s Rassemblement National — may start to emulate the Italian and Swedish model. Should this happen, the old continent could be at the beginning of a Right-wing wave not seen in decades.