The single-issue party thesis and the Sweden Democrats


When commenting on the European radical right, the term ‘single-issue party’ is frequently bandied about. We survey the various conceptualizations of the term and then apply them to the Sweden Democrats (SD), a party with roots in extremist subcultures that gained parliamentary representation in the 2010 elections. In the empirical analysis, we draw primarily on a unique survey of all parliamentary candidates to study: (i) the SD candidates’ positions on a large number of diverse issues, (ii) what issues they prioritize and (iii) the degree of ideological cohesion among their candidates. Secondarily, certain voter characteristics associated with the single-issue party concept are surveyed. Here, we use a large-scale exit poll to study: (i) SD voters’ demographic characteristics and (ii) what issues they prioritize. Throughout, the other main Swedish parties serve as points of comparison. Against what is commonly claimed, we find that the single-issue party label fits the SD poorly.

Acta Politica