Reflections on the Ideological Evolution of the Sweden Democrats party : A Qualitative Analysis of party programs over time

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för statsvetenskap (ST)

Abstract: In 2018, the Sweden Democrats party has gained 17.5 per cent of the votes during the Swedish general elections. Consequently, with this success, they became the third largest party in the riksdag. However, the party’s rapid growth has created several questions in the political arena and the Swedish society about the party’s ideological affiliations and evolutions. The political scientists, Mudde (2010) and Widfeldt (2008) argue that in order to understand a party’s improvements, it is important to explore a party’s ideological evolution. Scholars have argued that Sweden Democrats have normalized their ideas and values; adopted liberal values in some policy areas in order to attract a large number of voters, succeed and survive in the political system. The aim of this study is to explore the party’s idea/ideology changes since its creation in 1988 until present 2019. Hence, the main purpose is to find out if the core ideologies of the Sweden Democrats - that is nativism, authoritarianism and populism- as expressed in their party programs respectively electoral manifestos, are characterized by continuity or by normalization, and adaptation to liberal values. Using Marie Demker’s (1993) concept of ideology, ideal types for radical right populism and liberalism have been constructed as analytical tool. The study shows that throughout the years, the party’s nativist world view and strategy have been changed and normalized, the authoritarian world view has mainly been constant but the strategy has had major changes; shifted to liberal values, and finally regarding populism; both world view and strategy are characterized by continuity. 

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