Nordic dog whistles. Analyzing discriminatory discourses in the parlance of the Scandinavian radical right parties

The Nordic states had an active radical right presence long before the economic and refugee crises that swept the shores of the European Union (EU) left in their wake a reinvigorated right-wing contingent. The radical right parties (RRPs) have not only registered various degrees of electoral success, but have also made inroads into the political mainstream. The three defining characteristics that set these parties apart from the more traditional far-right ones are: 1) the repudiation of hardcore extremism; 2) the search for political viability; and 3) the acquisition of mainstream recognition. The present article argues that as these parties compete for legitimacy, they are forced to alter their discriminatory rhetoric by switching tonal registers. One of the political strategies that enables them to put the outright “overt” in the “covert” is the recourse to dog whistle politics. How well can they overcome the stigma associated with their more extreme reflexes depends on a case by case basis. This article examines whether the four most prominent examples of Nordic radicalism (the Danish People’s Party, Finns Party, Sweden Democrats, and Norway’s Progress Party) have integrated dog whistles in their political messaging and tracks how these coded appeals change from one country to another. In analyzing the response to the 2015 refugee crisis, the study finds that to a certain extent, the rhetoric utilized falls into the coded register or at the very least purposefully attempts to veer away from the radical excesses which are marginalizing and self-exclusionary.

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