Populism in Europe: Sweden

Nationalist populist parties and movements are growing in support throughout Europe. These groups are known for their opposition to immigration, their ‘anti-establishment’ views and their concern for protecting national culture. Their rise in popularity has gone hand-in-hand with the advent of social media, and they are adept at using new technology to amplify their message, recruit and organise.

In Sweden, the Sverigedemokraterna (or ‘Sweden Democrats’) emerged from the extremist far-right fringe to win 5.7 per cent of the vote in the 2010 elections, entering parliament for the first time.  Despite setbacks including praise for the party in the ‘manifesto’ written by Anders Breivik, attempts to alter the party’s image appear to have been broadly successful – it is currently polling anywhere between 4.5 and 9 per cent.

This report presents the results of a survey of Facebook fans of the Sweden Democrats. It includes data on who they are, what they think, and what motivates them to shift from virtual to real-world activism. It also compares them with other similar parties in Western Europe, shedding light on their growing online support, and the relationship between their online and offline activities. This report is the second in a series of country specific briefings about the online support of populist parties in 12 European countries, based on our survey of 13,000 Facebook fans of these groups.