The Russian aggression against Ukraine has seemingly emphasised more isolationist movements in Europe, partly reflected in elections and possible changes in governing structures within the Nordic states.
Despite the positive reaction of many European states which engaged in the strengthening of democratic and pro-humanitarian ties, the anxieties of the newly emerged crisis have fed the anti-refugee narratives within many parliaments that have existed for years prior.
For example, Norway’s 2013 election and Denmark’s 2015 election both revealed an increasing emergence of anti-refugee party support. Subsequently, 2018 elections in Sweden showed a rise in support for the Sweden Democrats - a party of “democratic nationalism” regarded as holding conservative and anti-immigration values.
Despite Nordic countries opening their borders to many refugees from Muslim-dominated states, the narrative of refugees, migrants and Islam remain a prevailing rhetoric in politics. In fact, ahead of the upcoming Swedish elections, Acta Publica has reported that 289 running politicians have been found to have expressed neo-Nazi or racist sentiments in the past. In Denmark, where right-wing parties have remained a minority, there have still been anti-Islamic policies, with the proposed ban of hijabs in schools being particularly controversial. Meanwhile, far-right Danish politician Rasmus Paludan held provocative rallies and events this year in which he burned the Quran, sparking counterprotests.
Finnish PM Sanna Marin has led the Social Democratic Party in strong support for refugees’ rights and inclusion, especially following the Russian military aggression against Ukraine. Resultantly, Finland has recently welcomed more refugees than even at the peak of the crisis for refugees in 2015. Finland’s case fortunately demonstrates more liberal quotas and less isolationist policies than their Nordic counterparts.