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Far-right Sweden Democrats top opinion poll in historic shift

The Sweden Democrats party has overtaken the ruling Social Democrats to top an opinion poll for the first time in Sweden, which represents a new landmark for the far-right party.

Far-right Sweden Democrats top opinion poll in historic shift
Jimmie Åkesson has over the past 15 years transformed the Sweden Democrats from a fringe neo-Nazi group. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
According to the latest opinion poll by the Swedish polling company Demoskop, the far-right party — which has its roots in 1990s neo-Nazi groups — now has the support of 24 percent of voters. This compares to just 22.2 percent for the ruling Social Democrats.  
 
“I'm not surprised,” the party's leader Jimmie Åkesson said after the result was published in the Aftonbladet newspaper on Friday.
 
“I've long argued we would be the biggest party sooner or later. We've been talking constructively over gang criminality, escalating insecurity, and a migration policy that doesn't work for so many years.” 
 
This is the first time the Sweden Democrats have been the largest party in any of the five polls carried out for Sweden's main newspapers and broadcasters. 
 
 
Lena Rådström Baastad, party secretary for the Social Democrats, blamed the recent spate of high profile shootings and explosions in Swedish cities, as well as the difficult compromises the party had had to make in its January Agreement with the Centre and Liberal Parties. 
 
“It's a damned tough situation right now, so I'm not surprised when you consider what we've got against us, with gang murders, shootings and explosions. It's us, as a the ruling party, who has to pay the price.” 
 
Åkesson said that the poll cemented his party's position as the true opposition to the Social Democrat party which has dominated Swedish politics since the 1930s.  
 
“In the old days it was the Moderates and [former PM Fredrik] Reinfeldt who were challenging them, now it's us,” he said. “It's a welcome shift in Swedish politics.” 
 
Demoskop's head of opinion research Peter Santesson said that the Moderate Party had lost 1.7 percentage points, shedding support both to the Sweden Democrats and to the Christian Democrats. 
 
Bloc politics is important in Sweden's system of proportional representation, so even if the Sweden Democrats manage to emerge as the largest party in the 2022 general election, they may still not be able to enter government. 
 
Instead of combining the parties into the former four-party Alliance group of Moderates, Christian Democrats, Centre Party and Liberals, Demoskop has now started measuring the combined vote of an emerging conservative bloc. 
 
The Moderates, Sweden Democrats and Christian Democrats now have a combined 49.4 percent, putting them well ahead of the left-liberal bloc of Social Democrats, Green Party, Centre Party and Liberal Party, and close to having a majority. 
 
But the Moderate Party is split over whether to collaborate with the Sweden Democrats, so it is unclear whether its members would support joining the populists in a coalition government. 
 
If the new conservative bloc wins a majority, however, the Moderates and the Christian Democrats could instead seek to form a coalition government with the support of the Sweden Democrats, as they tried but failed to do after the 2018 election. 
 
If the three conservative parties fell just short a majority, the Social Democrats could then conceivably remain in power with the tacit support of the former communist Left Party.
 
Meeting their demands while also retaining the support of the pro-free market Centre and Liberal parties would however involve a challenging balancing act. 

Member comments

  1. “Far right”, “Roots in Neo-Nazi groups.” Are there any other attributes found in the people who identify with or agree with some or all the positions of the Swedish Democrats? For balance, perhaps we should identify those parties on the “far left” who have roots in the communist party, or other ‘extreme’ groups?

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SWEDEN DEMOCRATS

Politician leaves Sweden Democrats after referencing Olof Palme murder in social media post

A local politician with Sweden’s far-right Sweden Democrats (SD) has left the party after making a social media post that referred to the assassination of former prime minister Olof Palme.

Politician leaves Sweden Democrats after referencing Olof Palme murder in social media post
File photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

The politician, who is from a municipality in Värmland, was relieved of his political duties after posting on Facebook a picture with the accompanying text “Christer Pettersson, where are you when Sweden needs you?”

Christer Pettersson was in 1988 convicted for the murder of Palme, but was acquitted on appeal the following year.

Palme, a Social Democrat prime minister who was in office from 1969-76 and from 1982 until his death, was assassinated in February 1986 after being fatally shot in the back.

The Facebook post in question was made after the confirmation of Stefan Löfven, also a Social Democrat, as prime minister after a parliamentary vote on Friday.

The SD politician is reported to have told broadcaster SVT that he meant the post as a joke, but the local party leadership appears to have taken the matter seriously.

In a press statement, SD district chairperson Runar Filper wrote that he had spoken to the local politician behind the post, and agreement had been reached for his political assignments with the party to be terminated.

“He accepts the consequences of this inappropriate and ill-advised Facebook post and is leaving politics with immediate effect,” the press release stated.

READ ALSO: Stefan Löfven voted back in as Swedish prime minister 

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