New study on the radical nationalist environment in Sweden

A study by the Centre for Asymmetric Threats and Terrorist Studies (CATS) at the Swedish National Defence University states that the Swedish radical nationalist environment is disseminating a narrative that can potentially radicalize individuals and inspire to violence.

”From the Nordic Resistance Movement to the Alternative Right – a Study of Radical Nationalistic Environments in Sweden” has been commissioned by the Swedish Center for Preventing Violent Extremism (CVE) at the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention. The study maintains that the Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR) is still the largest organization in the right-wing extremist milieu while the network-based alternative right movement has lately succeeded in disseminating its message both in Sweden and abroad.

"Even though the radical nationalist milieu in Sweden exists on an ideological scale, it consists of diverse organizations and movements, which are inseparable. On the contrary, periodic contacts between the environments exists, facilitated by key figures who introduce ideological literature, concepts and ideas as well as discussions. Meetings are often appearances on each others’ social media channels. Largely, the NMR and the Alternative Right share the same destructive narrative", says Dr. Magnus Ranstorp who, together with Filip Ahlin, are the editors of the study.

The common messages from both environments center in varying degrees on race separatism, ethnopluralism as well as on conspiratorial ideas of an imminent societal collapse and on the premise that ”the people” and ”culture” are on the verge of annihilation by external enemies.

"The radical nationalist milieu shares the desire to radicalize the social debate and to push the boundaries for what is acceptable. In the end, this can lead to dehumanization of certain groups, which in turn can lead to violence", says Filip Ahlin.

Even if the NMR is the dominant right-wing actor in Sweden, the authors of the report say that one should not overestimate its reach and that on an overall level the NMR as an organization is not a threat to the constitutional order, even if individual members can perpetrate violence.

"It is a small organization and is unlikely to develop in a more violent direction under the current leadership. Their political participation in the previous election was a total fiasco and their activity seems to have subsequently decreased. However, they have succeeded in other areas, for example, by establishing themselves in social media, where they have a produced multiple social media channels. They are also forced to seek alternate ways to finance themselves since banks have closed their accounts. Our research shows that they have received up to a million SEK in cryptocurrency from anonymous donors", says Magnus Ranstorp.

The study also assesses Alternative Right movement in Sweden and its international connections.

Organizational affiliation is obsolete. Rather the movement is a loose network that consists of individuals - ideologists, activists and radical ”influencers” in social media - who share a common narrative. They are adept at packaging their messages in humor and irony and often use memes or other internal symbols with the expressed intention of radicalizing social debate and making the unacceptable acceptable, says Filip Ahlin, analyst at CATS.


Summary: From the Nordic Resistance Movement to the Alternative Right – a Study of Radical Nationalistic Environments in Sweden, CATS, Swedish Defence University, 2020 Pdf, 473 kB.

The report consists of 12 chapters, one of which is written by the Swedish Security Service.

Editors: Magnus Ranstorp and Filip Ahlin, (CATS).

Authors: Filip Ahlin (CATS), Maik Fielitz (Universität Hamburg), Peder Hyllengren (CATS), Anna-Lena Lodenius (author and investigative journalist), Heléne Lööw (Uppsala University), Erik Mellander (University of Gothenburg), Joe Mullhall (The HOPE not hate organisation), Magnus Normark (Swedish Defence Research Agency, CATS), Magnus Ranstorp (CATS), and Jennie Sivenbring (University of Gothenburg).

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Magnus Ranstorp

Research Director, Associate Professor +46 8-55342787
Camilla Magnusson

Head of External Relations and Communication, Head of Division +46 8-55342736
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