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Flag of Sweden: Swedish Flag by Richard Leonard and licensed under CC BY 2.0 DEED

Rothstein, Bo. “The Shadow of the Swedish Right.” Journal of Democracy 34, no. 1 (2023): 36-49.


In the recent election to the Swedish Parliament, the Sweden Democrats, a right-wing populist and nationalist Party, gained 20.5 percent of the vote, making it for the first time the second-largest party in the country. The election resulted in a narrow win for the right-wing bloc that is now in government. In international rankings of factors such as “happiness,” social trust, population health, quality of democracy, gender equality, economic prosperity, etc., Sweden is a very successful society. This article attempts to answer the question of why, given these rankings, such a large part of the electorate voted for an antiestablishment, populist, right-wing, and illiberal party.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.