Radical right-wing voters from right and left: Comparing Sweden Democrat voters who previously voted for the Conservative Party or the Social Democratic Party

Like in many other European countries, the political system has undergone rapid changes in Sweden as a radical right-wing party – The Sweden Democrats (SD) – has grown from a negligible position into one of the country’s largest parties. SD has been winning voters from both the right and the left sides of the political spectrum, and particularly from Sweden’s two largest parties, the Conservative Party (Moderaterna, M) and the Social Democratic Party (S). The present study investigated the extent to which SD voters that previously voted for one of these two parties differ from each other, as well as compared these SD voters with current Conservative Party and Social Democratic voters. Results showed that 1) economic deprivation offers a better explanation for the past mobility from S, than from M, to the SD; 2) no group differences were found between previous M and S voters in attitudes connected to the appeal of an anti-establishment party; and 3) views on the profile issues
espoused by the radical right, most importantly opposition to immigration, did not differ between SD voters who come from M and S. However, SD voters – particularly SD voters who previously voted for the Social Democratic party – differed from the voters of their previous parties in several aspects. It is thus possible that many SD voters will not return to the parties they previously voted for, at least as long as the immigration issue continues to be of high salience in the society.