PARIS — French leaders on the far right and far left weighed in on the result of Sweden’s parliamentary election, applauding the disruption of mainstream parties — albeit for different reasons.
“Another bad evening for the European Union in the works,” wrote Marine Le Pen on Twitter. The leader of the far-right National Rally added a red-cheeked, smiley-face emoji.
“Victory against the extreme right in #Sweden. And our Swedish ally in the European coalition #NowThePeople made gains and reached 10%,” wrote Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the far-left France Unbowed movement. (His coalition partner actually received 7.9 percent of the votes and 8 percent of parliamentary seats.)
Combined, Sweden’s far-right Sweden Democrats and far-left Left Party improved their vote share by 6.9 percent from the previous election in 2014.
The exultations come as French party leaders attempt to forge their campaign narratives ahead of the 2019 European election. Fewer than nine months from the ballot, French parties are signaling how they plan to energize voters for what is traditionally France’s lowest-turnout election.
Le Pen and Mélenchon could be using the Swedish vote to create a sense of momentum, after an underwhelming finish in the June 2017 legislative election.
Emmanuel Macron, whose centrist La République en Marche (LREM) swept to an absolute parliamentary majority in 2017, may be taking the opposite approach.
“The score obtained by the [Sweden Democrats] … rings the alarm bell for a nationalist wave infecting Europe little by little, from Austria to Italy,” wrote LREM party head Christophe Castaner.
The more pessimistic tone matches with Macron’s desire to position himself as the main opposition to surging nationalist parties in the EU.
In Sunday’s election, Sweden’s center-left and center-right parties were still the leading vote-getters, securing a total of 48.2 percent of all ballots cast.