Europe Deserves Better

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Broken Promises The Sweden Democracts first year in the European Parliament 2015 - Philip Lerulf

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  • Broken PromisesThe Sweden Democrats first year in the European Parliament

    Philip Lerulf

  • Broken Promises

    The Sweden Democrats first year in the European Parliament


    Organization for European Interstate Cooperation 2015 Author: Philip Lerulf

    Proofreading: Aleksander Pruitt

    Printed in Romania

    The activities of the OEIC are financially supported by the European Parliament. The

    liability of any communication or publication by the OEIC, in any form and any medium

    rests solely with the OEIC. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that

    may be made of the information contained therein. The views and opinions expressed are

    solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OEIC, its

    members or member organisations. This book is available for free and can be copied for

    non-commercial purposes as long as the author and publisher are mentioned by name.

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    Foreword Many analysts predicted that the eurosceptic parties would gain

    the best results in the May 2014 European Parliament election. It

    was a reasonable observation. By the time of the election the

    economy in several countries within the EU had more or less

    stagnated. Record high unemployment in Greece, Spain, and

    Portugal (15-30 percent), combined with abysmal growth, deep

    budget deficits and high levels of national debt appeared to

    threaten the whole EU.

    One year later we can ascertain that the prediction proved

    correct. Additional eurosceptic parties became stronger after the

    election. At the same time we should notice that several of the

    parties which received support due to their eurosceptic stance

    had traditionally been known for other ideas, such as resistance

    to immigration and multiculturalism. The Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn

    in Greece and French Front National are just two examples of


    Studying how the eurosceptic parties acted in parliament during

    their first year reveals their criticism of the EU in several cases to

    be more rhetorical than factual analysis. Once they were in a

    decision making role, several failed to vote in an especially

    eurosceptic way. Despite promising their voters to support a

    development towards less central control and supranationalism,

    the result has far too often been a call for more EU-regulation

    with respect to each partys most important issues. The Sweden

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    Democrats, which were taking a closer look at in this report, are

    no exception.

    Saying one thing in the presence of the election and acting in

    another in Brussels and Strasbourg is of course a major letdown

    to the voters. Although whats probably worse is that this sort of

    acting risks strengthening the image that euroscepticism and

    xenophobia belong together, an idea many enthusiastic

    europhiles happily confirm by spreading it.

    Both Europe and the EU face a process where it gets clearer and

    clearer that increased central control and bureaucratization is

    leading us towards ruin. To criticize this does not mean one is or

    must be xenophobic. Nor does a rightful criticism regarding the

    process of integration within the EU necessarily lead to a

    repudiation of the vision of a free and open society.

    Philip Lerulf,

    President, OEIC

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    Introduction The Sweden Democrats received 9.67 percent of the votes in

    Sweden during the May 2014 European Parliament election.

    Nearly three times the share of votes compared to the election

    five years earlier when the party with 3.27 percent missed the 4

    percent threshold and failed to obtain a seat. Since June 2014 the

    two MEPs from the party, Kristina Winberg and Peter Lundgren,

    have been part of the group Europe of Freedom and Direct

    Democracy (EFDD).

    But what kind of political party is it that the British UKIP has

    chosen to cooperate with? An analysis of the partys manifesto

    gives you the impression of the Sweden Democrats being a

    conventional eurosceptic party, but a closer look shows that it is

    also a party with a long history of xenophobia. And just how

    eurosceptic is the Sweden Democrats?

    In this report you will have these questions answered, amongst

    more. We will also summarize the Sweden Democrats first year in

    the European Parliament and present how the party has acted in

    key votes.

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    Why the Sweden Democrats won

    The Sweden Democrats success in the 2014 elections was the

    result of a well implemented campaign. By promising that the

    party would take action on the process of leaving the EU they

    successfully profiled themselves as the most obvious eurosceptic

    alternative. The attention the party has gained in the national

    political debate since entering the Swedish Parliament 2010 also

    contributed to gaining more attention than the rest of parties

    without seats in the European Parliament.

    But electoral successes obviously cannot be fully explained

    without mentioning the crisis atmosphere that prevailed in the

    EU and Eurozone at the time of the election. All the television

    images of angry demonstrators on the streets of Athens, which

    was broadcast months before the European elections,

    strengthened the publics perception that something was not

    right in the EU, sealing the deal for the Sweden Democrats.

    The partys message

    During the election the Sweden Democrats presented the

    message Less EU, more Sweden! to the voters. In their

    elections manifesto the party criticized the attempts of reducing

    the importance of the nation state and the development towards

    more and more political decisions being made by the assemblies

    in Brussels and Strasbourg rather than by the member states

    national parliaments. The Sweden Democrats criticized the other

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    Swedish parties for voting for a continued shift of power and

    therefore promised the voters to be an advocate for

    euroscepticism in Brussels. 1

    The party entered the election campaign with five concrete

    election promises:

    1. Demand a renegotiation of the Swedish EU-membership

    followed by a referendum on membership.

    2. Demand a significantly reduced EU-budget and also that the

    Swedish EU membership fee, which in 2014 was about 37 billion

    Swedish Kronor (4 billion Euro), be reduced.

    3. Call for greater transparency in the EU institutions, tougher

    actions against misused tax money and corruption, and a strong

    principle of public access to official records.

    4. Further strengthening of border controls and the opportunity

    to refrain from giving visas to some citizens. The Sweden

    Democrats believed that the open borders within the EU were

    being misused and had led to crossborder criminality, weapons

    and drug smuggling, terrorism, trafficking and organized

    begging. The party wanted to limit the time that EU-citizens

    could be in Sweden unobstructed without reporting their

    intention or how they might support themselves.

    1 The Sweden Democrats (2014), Less EU, more Sweden. Election manifesto European Parliament election 2014,

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    5. The party called for a halt to all supranational control over the

    Swedish labour market and a legally binding guarantee for the

    protection of the Swedish model. The party was highly critical of

    the EU attempting to gain influence over the Swedish job market,

    which they believed contributed to wage dumping and poorer

    working conditions.

    The partys MEPs

    The Sweden Democrats electoral success gave them two seats in

    the European Parliament, won by Kristina Winberg and Peter

    Lundgren, who got 43 643 (12.15 percent) and 27 628 (7.69

    percent) votes respectively. 2

    Peter Lundgren, who is a professional truck driver, has been a

    substitute of the partys board since November 2013. Peter

    Lundgren became an active politician in the Sweden Democrats

    during the 2010 national election. In Gnosj he led an active

    campaign that resulted in three seats in the city council. He

    represented the Sweden Democrats in the city council (2010-

    2014) and was also president in the local party organization. Peter

    Lundgren is a member of the Committee on Transport and

    Tourism and a substitute in the Committee on Agriculture and

    Rural Development. Hes also a member of the delegation for

    relations with the United States, delegation for relations with

    2 Valmyndigheten (2015), Election result European Parliament election 2014, votes,

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    Canada, and a substitute in the delegation for relations with

    Australia and New Zeeland.

    Kristina Winberg, who worked as a nursing assistant, has been a

    member of the Jnkping city council since 2010. Kristina

    Winberg is a member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice

    and Home Affairs and a substitute in the Committee on

    Constitutional Affairs. In addition she is also a member of the

    delegation for relations