The rise of right wing populist parties in the Nordic countries is slowly redefining the Nordic social democratic discourse of the universal and egalitarian welfare state. The nexus of nationalism and social policy has been explored in regions and countries such as Quebec, Scotland, Belgium and the United Kingdom but the change of discourse in the Nordic countries has received less attention. Taking the case of Sweden and Finland, this paper argues that Nordic populism does not question the redistributive welfare state per se as many other European neo-liberal far-right parties have done. Instead it reframes welfare state as being linked to a sovereign and exclusive Swedish and Finnish political community with distinct national boundaries. Although Sweden and Finland largely share a common welfare nation state discourse, the article also points to important differences in the way this discourse is able to frame the welfare nation state where access to and the design of social services are no longer universal and egalitarian but based around ethnicity. The article aims to demonstrate this through an analysis of the welfare discourses of two populist parties: the Sweden Democrats and the True Finns.
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- Welfare state
- Populist parties
- Nation state