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Jimmie Åkesson, party leader of Sweden Democrats, is debating in the parliament with the Prime Minister Stefan Löfven (Social Democrat). Photo: Riksdagen

Swedish elections: Anti-immigration party set to be largest

Today the Swedes are going to vote for a new parliament, as well as regional and local representatives. The anti-immigration party, the Sweden Democrats are expected to rise to the position of biggest party, while a completely new Alternative for Sweden has a chance to enter the parliament.

Published: September 9, 2018, 4:51 pm

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    Sweden is expected to follow the European trend, where establishment parties are eradicated, while eurosceptic and anti-immigration parties take the lead. Social Democrats, once the dominating power of Swedish politics and society with an absolute majority 50 years ago, is on the verge of getting their worst result ever, below the 28.5 percent the party scored in 1911.

    Instead, the growing force is the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats [Sverigedemokraterna, SD]. The party entered parliament for the first time in 2010 with 5.7 percent, and claimed the third place in the election of 2014, with 12.9 percent.

    'Change for real'. Slogan with Jimmie Åkesson (SD). Photo: FWM

    ‘Change for real’. Slogan with Jimmie Åkesson (SD). Photo: FWM

    In opinion polls, the party is set to be about equally as big as the Social Democrats, claiming the first or second position. However, none of the polls in previous elections managed to correctly predict the party’s support, since many voters are afraid to admit that they vote for the Sweden Democrats. It has been calculated, that if the current polls are off with the same percentage as in previous elections, the party could get as much as 31.4 percent.

    The party has been boycotted by all the other parties in the parliament. They brand the anti-establishment party as being racist, although the Sweden Democrats sport black candidates. The main issue of the SD is to lower immigration to European levels, but at the same time they propagate an “open Swedishness”, which means that an immigrant can integrate and “become Swedish”.

    After the election of 2014, the seven establishment parties were divided into a socialst and a conservative block. The socialist block was only slightly bigger, thus in theory giving SD the chance to influence politics. In an infamous agreement called The December Contract, the conservative block agreed not to vote against the socialist government in order to keep SD from influencing politics. This was perceived by many as highly undemocratic, angered voters even more and led to greater all-round anti-establishment sentiment.

    During the immigrant crises of 2015, Sweden received over 160 000 asylum seekers. Every little town and village was overcrowded with migrants, with criminality – especially rape and sexual harassment – exploding. The widespread problems led to the establishment of a new party, the Alternative for Sweden (AfS). Originally an offshoot from the SD, the AfS criticised the SD for being too liberal. The AfS brands them selves the “repatriation party” with the aim of expelling at least a half million migrants from Sweden.

    Sweden has a population of ten million, of which about two million are first or second generation migrants, mostly from non-European countries.

    In Sweden, there is a threshold for the parliament of 4 percent. It would be a surprise to many if a party with such a brief history as AfS managed to enter parliament in their first ever elections. However, the political scene is very fluid. The branding in media of every anti-immigrant opinion as “racist”, “xenophobic” or even “fascist” is not working anymore, given the huge evident support for the SD. No one takes such intimidation seriously anymore.

    Alternative for Sweden is demonstrating in Stockholm on September 7. Photo: FWM

    Alternative for Sweden is demonstrating in Stockholm on September 7. Photo: FWM

     

    The electorate has also become less rigid. Once people decide not to vote for the establishment, all doors are open.

    At the same time, the threshold of 4 percent represents a grave danger for at least the Green party and the Christian Democrats. In the last days before the elections, the main daily newspapers ran a campaign in support of the Green party, publishing several pages about global warming. Several debate articles from the representatives of the party were published, while opinion pieces sceptical to the theory of man made global warming were refused.

    The Green party has been criticised for collaborating with the Muslim community in Sweden. The latest scandal being the party’s strong man Ali Khalil in Botkyrka municipality, a city in the south of Stockholm dominated by immigrants. The Swedish television revealed that Khalil offered the conservative party Moderaterna 3 000 Muslim votes in exchange for a promise to be allowed to build a mosque in the city. However, Moderaterna declined and Khalil was expelled from the Green party.

    Polling stations close at 8 pm local time, and results are expected later during the night.

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