Jan Emanuel wants to enter the European Parliament with his newly founded right-wing “Folklistan”. One of the demands of his movement: abolish the right to asylum.

Jan Emanuel is sitting on a couch debating, dressed in a light blue suit, with a full beard and taming his hair with gel.

Rolls-Royce instead of Volvo: Jan Emanuel of the new Swedish “Folklistan” Photo: Jessica Gow/TT/imago

SWEDEN taz | Does a true Swedish social democrat drive a Volvo? Not Jan Emanuel. He drives Rolls-Royce all he wants. The old consensus that a modest appearance is important doesn't matter to him. The Swede has had enough money since he became rich years ago by selling a company to an investor. The company was an institution for children and young people with social problems. Controversial methods, controversial deals, but that didn't matter to the man who is now troubling Sweden.

The 49-year-old was also a teenager. He calls himself a founding member of one of Sweden's first criminal gangs, in the late 1980s. The core of his brand is his development: from a violent criminal with drug problems, he became a businessman and politician. From 2002 to 2014, Jan Emanuel was active in the Social Democratic Party, in the Reichstag and as a local politician. He continued alienation: his party was no longer the same and had abandoned the workers. He continued to express himself in public debates.

As of this week, the man with the hipster beard, tattoos and muscles has also lost his party membership. It was previously announced that he is a co-founder of the new “Folklistan” and will be its main candidate for the European elections on June 9. This “People's List” is now causing a stir, with its prominent names and its declared intention to shake up the electoral campaign.

Jan Emanuel and co-founder Sara Skyttedal, MEP and recently Christian Democrat, emphasize that it is not a party. Rather, it is “electoral collaboration.” Everyone is welcome. The list is intended for people who are “tired of inhibiting partisan cultures and partisan whips.” The tone is not unknown in other countries either: people are against supposed prohibitions of thought, against classical left and right thinking, for ordinary people. What comes out of it usually points to the right. The basic prerequisite for the work expected in the next European Parliament: renegotiating Sweden's membership in the EU. Sweden first.

Conservatives work with the right

What the “People's List” wants remains unclear at the moment. Only one request is known: he wants to abolish the right of asylum. It has had its time and is from a time before globalization. Instead of hosting threatened people in Europe, they should receive international help on the ground at the source of the conflict. The EU asylum reform that was just passed is good in some parts, but that doesn't change the fact that it is just trying to fix a broken asylum system.

Since 2022, Sweden has a conservative government that consciously works with the far-right Sweden Democrats. And the Moderates' Immigration Minister, Maria Malmer Stenergard, has long been using a “we are now taking action” tone of voice, without attempting to differentiate between immigrant communities and violent gang crimes.

Emanuel also sees the latter as a central problem. But right-wing government or not, the moderates also belong to the classic party structure with a fixed program – not social enough, too pro-EU – hardly suitable for Emanuel, who once described himself as a ” conservative left in its own corner. no place in his own party. Now he has returned as a politician with “Folkistan”. In less than two months it will be clear whether businessman Jan Emanuel had the right instinct.