The leader of the Sweden Democrats party has used a significant interview with his nation’s largest newspaper to set out his stall for the next general election, claiming his party will be the largest in parliament after the vote.
Jimmie Åkesson’s Eurosceptic Sweden democrats are enjoying a historic surge of interest thanks to their long-espoused hard-line approach to mass migration during the migrant crisis. While they have held the top spot in Swedish opinion polls repeatedly over the past year the present mainstream narrative is that his party is now slipping two years short of the next general election.
Speaking to AftonBladet today, Mr Åkesson has said his apparently eroded lead in the polls is down to a massive shift in what is often considered to be one of Europe’s most left-wing and pro mass migration nations to the right, thanks to his party. And despite the mainstream parties beginning to understand some of what he has been saying for years on border control and repatriation of foreigners, he still thinks his party is going to come out of the next election as the largest — a “30 per cent party”.
Far from the party now growing tired half way through the parliament, Mr Åkesson said they were only now “reaping what they sowed during all [last] year”. He said of their position: “It looks very good. We have seen an increase in our party that I think is unprecedented in modern times.
“It has slowed a little now, but into the bargain we have a whole new debate about immigration and integration policies [and the ball is in] our court”.
On the paradigm shift in Swedish politics and his own polling, the Sweden Democrats leader said: “I think it is partly because the other parties have started talking about our issues, in particular [the liberal conservative Moderate party].
“We received reports of enormous desperation in the Moderate line when in a few months we took lots of voters from them and went up in the polls. That they started to position themselves closer to us, I see as a success.
“We will not get 50 percent of votes in the next election, so we need to have other parties with us to implement our policy. If we lose a few percentage points [is] irrelevant, what is important is that the number of immigration-critical politicians in parliament has increased”.
The nature of Swedish politics, which requires a number of small parties to join together to form diverse coalitions informs Mr Åkesson’s thinking, as not even the most powerful mainstream parties are able to form majority governments.
Conscious that even if he controlled the largest party the Sweden Democrats might still not be able to form a coalition themselves but instead may have to submit to an unusual situation where they were the largest, but junior member of a coalition government Mr Åkesson said even simple things like “formalised cooperation or budget negotiations would not matter, as long as we get our policies through”.
Without these policies, the Sweden Democrat leader sees a grim future for his nation. Concluding on the greatest challenge the Nordic nation now faces, he remarked: “It is to hold Sweden together in the long term.
“We see a segregated, polarized, fragmented Sweden today, in part because of migrants, but not wholly because. Sweden is divided in other ways and in other directions.
“We need to stick together and we should do this through welfare initiatives, integration efforts, and job policies”.
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