Chapter 6: The politics of ethnic nationalism, nostalgia and anti-immigrant framing: the trajectory of the Sweden Democrats 1989-2022
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This study analyzes the close links between nationalism and migration by exploring the ethno-nationalist rhetoric of nationalist and populist Radical Right parties, taking the Sweden Democrat Party as the case in point. The intersections of nationalism and migration is analyzed by exploring frames and mechanisms of ethnic nationalism, nationalist nostalgia, anti-migrant frames, gatekeeping and resentment. The ethnic nationalism, the nostalgia for the imagined community that once was, alongside the framing of migration and migrants as a threat to the national community, the nation, are defining characteristics of the radical right party family in Europe and elsewhere. Sweden was long considered immune to such ethno-nationalist rhetoric since the Sweden Democrats, compared to the radical right parties of the other Nordic countries, made it into Parliament comparatively late in 2010. Today, and after the parliamentary election of 2022, the Sweden Democrats is the second largest party. Like many other nationalist and populist parties, the Sweden Democrats has modernized its rhetoric over time, as will be outlined. However, the centrality of the party’s ethno-nationalist message and its diagnostic framing of problems identifying migration as a threat to the nation, show remarkable continuity over the period 1989-2022 and is key to explaining how and why the party has appealed to voters. Frame theory is used to analyze central components of ethnic nationalism and anti-migrant framing and the empirical materials used for this study include official party manifestos and position papers between 1989 and 2022.

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