Swedish compromise politics risks pushing voters to far right

Muslims go on a car-burning spree in Sweden in 2013.

(Reuters) – A deal between Sweden’s mainstream political parties aimed at neutralizing the far-right and avoiding a snap election could backfire by legitimizing the nationalist Sweden Democrats as the main opposition and focusing debate on immigration.

Last week’s unprecedented accord between the center-left and center-right cements their hold on power by making it easier for minority governments to pass a budget.

But it also risks painting the Sweden Democrats as the only alternative for a growing number of voters disenchanted with the country’s established parties.

“We are, in fact, the only opposition party now,” Sweden Democrats spokesman Henrik Vinge told Reuters.

While Sweden has been a by-word for tolerance, the party has surged in polls, moving from the extremist fringe a decade ago to become the country’s third-biggest party in September elections with the support of around 13 percent of voters…

…Their support was boosted by riots in immigrant-heavy suburbs around Stockholm last year, raising fears that integration policies were failing…