Professor Has Doubts Xenophobia Is On The Rise - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Professor Has Doubts Xenophobia Is On The Rise

Published November 25, 2015

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Squall38r809/Wikimedia Commons

A professor of political science believes that the danger of far-right political movements in Scandinavia are exaggerated, despite rising levels of support.

RÚV spoke with Ólafur Þ. Harðarson, a professor of political science at the University of Iceland, about far-right political movements in Scandinavia. The Sweden Democrats, the Progress Party in Norway, the Finns Party and the Danish People’s Party are all far-right parties in the Nordic countries, and all have managed to clear the 10% mark in popular support, with some hovering closer to 20%. While the trend is troubling, Ólafur said, it can be overstated.

“It was a specific group of people who were afraid of the general changes which were, and are, happening in Nordic societies and across Europe in the past decades,” he explained. “That such parties form does not at all necessarily mean that their ideology is getting stronger. It could be taken as a sign of weakness, actually, as these groups who adhere to these ideologies feel the majority is gaining ground.”

Ólafur believes that this being the case, the time has never been better for the non-racist majority to unify and strengthen themselves against the far-right.

Iceland does not have an officially far-right racist party as such, apart from the brief establishment of the Iceland First party in 2011, and the Conservative Party in 2015, both of which subsequently disappeared from public view.

There have, however, been concerns about far-right nationalist ideologies in Iceland. Islamophobic hate crimes and death threats have been reported, and Pegida has also reached Iceland. More established political parties have also benefitted from Islamophobia when it comes to gaining political power.

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