‘Victory or death’: Top Sweden Democrat criticized for Facebook election comments

UPDATED: The parliamentary group leader of the far-right Sweden Democrats has been criticized for a Facebook post he made following the election result, in which he said "there are only two choices, victory or death".

'Victory or death': Top Sweden Democrat criticized for Facebook election comments
Mattias Karlsson speaking at the Sweden Democrats' election night event. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

In the post, Karlsson wrote that with the 2018 election over, the campaign for EU elections and the next general election in four years' time had begun.

“Analyses will be carried out, our strategies and political weapons will be honed, refined and made more efficient,” he wrote.

He said that Sweden was “really in trouble” as it had been before in its history, saying that the nation had withstood and resisted attacks and occupations thanks to “the unwavering stubbornness, conviction, sacrifice and leadership of a small group of patriots”.

“We haven't chosen this, but our opponents have really forced us into an existential fight for our culture's and our nation's survival. There are only two choices, victory or death. There is only one way, and that is forwards,” Karlsson continued.

He accompanied the statement with an excerpt of a speech given by Winston Churchill in 1940, shortly after German forces attacked France, and an image of the 17th-18th century Swedish Carolean army, who had a reputation for winning many of their battles even when outnumbered.

The post has been criticized by politicians and commentators both for factual inaccuracies and for the extreme tone.

On Wednesday afternoon, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven commented on the posts, saying: “Here we have a party that publicly embraced pure war rhetoric. There can't possibly be any more proof needed that the Sweden Democrats should never be given power to decide Sweden's future.” 

The leader of the Liberal Party, Jan Björklund, meanwhile described Karlsson's statement as “grotesque”.

Historian and liberal commentator David Lindén pointed out in an article for Nerikes Allehanda the historical errors, including the fact that Sweden has never been occupied by foreign forces and that the country has always had allies.

“Note the language and the anti-liberal worldview,” Public Administration Minister Ardalan Shekarabi of the Social Democrat party commented on Twitter. “Any democrat who sees these forces as 'government material' is naive and has not learned anything from the history of Europe.”

The political editor of three liberal Södermanland newspapers, Alex Voronov, said that Karlsson “is living in a fascist fantasy world”.

“Those who believe that the SD have been normalized and should be 'nurtured' in a government collaboration should check how Mattias Karlsson expresses himself now the election is over,” political scientist Carl Melin commented on Twitter.

Karlsson responded to his critics on Wednesday afternoon, admitting that his statement could be “perceived as dramatic for anyone who has never heard an attempt at pep talk”.

He further said that Sweden had been governed for a long time by “explicitly internationalist parties” and that a lower proportion of the population had “a Swedish identity and loyalty”.

The Sweden Democrats remained the third largest party after the September 9th election, increasing their share of the vote from 12.9 percent in 2014 to over 17 percent but failing to overtake the centre-right Moderates as some polls had predicted.

With some votes still remaining to be counted on Wednesday, it could take months before Sweden has a new government in place.

The Sweden Democrats are hoping to play a pivotal role, with party leader Jimmie Åkesson telling Swedish public radio on Monday: “He who understands first that he can talk to me will have the easiest time building a government.”

For the time being however, all the leaders of Sweden's major parties have ruled out an alliance with the far-right and anti-immigrant party.

READ ALSO: Will Sweden be able to form a government?

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Sweden’s right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The four parties backing Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson as prime minister on Sunday announced that they had agreed to keep the current Speaker, Andreas Norlén in place, when the role is put to a vote as parliament opens on Monday.

Sweden's right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The parties won a three-seat majority over the bloc led by the incumbent Social Democrats in Sweden’s general election on September 11th, and are currently in the middle of negotiating how they will form Sweden’s next government. 

Sweden’s parliament meets at 11am for the official installation of the 349 MPs for this mandate period. The votes for the Speaker and three Deputy Speakers are the first item on the agenda, after which the parties each select their parliamentary leaders and then vote on who should chair each of the parliamentary committees. 

READ ALSO: What happens next as parliament reopens? 

In a joint press release announcing the decision, the parties also agreed that the Sweden Democrats would be given eight of the 16 chairmanships the bloc will have of parliamentary committees in the next parliament, and that MPs for all four parties would back Julia Kronlid, the Sweden Democrats’ Second Deputy Leader, as the second deputy Speaker, serving under Norlén. 

In the press release, the parties said that Norlén had over the last four years shown that he has “the necessary personal qualities and qualifications which the role requires”. 

The decision to retain Norlén, who presided over the 134 days of talks and parliamentary votes that led to the January Agreement in 2019, was praised by Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson. 

Norlén, she said in a statement, had “managed his responsibilities well over the past four years and been a good representative of Sweden’s Riksdag.” 

The decision to appoint Kronlid was opposed by both the Left Party and the Green Party, who said that she supported tightening abortion legislation, and did not believe in evolution.

The Green Party’s joint leader Märta Stenevi said that her party “did not have confidence in Julia Kronlid”, pointing to an interview she gave in 2014 when she said she did not believe that humans were descended from apes.

The party has proposed its finance spokesperson Janine Alm Ericson as a rival candidate. 

The Left Party said it was planning to vote for the Centre Party’s candidate for the post second deputy Speaker in the hope of blocking Kronlid as a candidate.