Sverigedemokraterna

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Sweden Democrats Logo circa 2015, Source: https://sd.se/
The Sverigedemokraterna or Sweden Democrats (SD) is a far right political party in Sweden.[1]

They have been characterised as a party of the 'new far right', having taken pains to sanitise their message and their image, consigning jackboots and skinheads to the past and replacing them with sharp suits and ties, denying accusations of anti-Semitism and concentrating on opposing what they call 'Islamisation', immigration and the EU.[2]

History

The Sweden Democrats was founded in 1988 and emerged from groups like Keep Sweden Swedish (Bevara Sverige Svenskt).[3]

According to author Jens Rydgren, it has its roots in the extra-parliamentary far-right:

for the first half of the 1990s there was no clear distinction between the Sweden Democrats and different skinhead and Nazi organisations, and an overlap of membership was not uncommon.[4]

Journalist Jake Wallis Simons in the Daily Telegraph similarly reports that the party was established in as a white supremacist outfit. He has written that members used to wear Nazi uniforms to meetings and that one prominent early activist, Gustaf Ekström, had been a member of the Waffen SS and another - Anders Klarström - was part of the Nordic Reich Party.[2] He observes, however that:

in 1995, under the leadership of Mikael Jansson (formerly a member of the liberal Centre Party), the Sweden Democrats underwent a deliberate process of moderation. A 'uniform ban' was introduced, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was announced as the bedrock of its policies. When Jimmie Åkesson, a young career politician, became leader in 2005, he intensified the programme of modernisation. In 2006, he changed the party’s logo from a National Front-style torch to a baby-blue daisy. Sweden Democrat policies have also been sanitised. Alongside a concern for 'preserving traditional culture', the party now campaigns on a platform of law and order and rights for the elderly. A preoccupation with Nordic ethnicity has been replaced by the concept of 'open Swedishness', which implies that immigrants are welcome so long as they renounce their other identities and take on 'Swedish ways'.[2]

Whistleblower, Daniel Assai, a former high-ranking member of the party has claimed that these reforms are PR-driven and meretricious and what the party says and does in public is different from what it stands for behind closed doors.[2]

Splinter group

In 2001, Nationaldemokraterna or 'National Democrats' (ND) was founded as a breakaway from the Sweden Democrats.[5]

Support

In the 2006 Swedish elections the Sweden Democrats won 2.9% of the vote but no seats in parliament.[6]

In the 2010 Swedish general election the party polled 5.7% and won parliamentary seats for the first time, for 20 of its politicians.[7]

By 2014, the SD were the third largest party in Sweden. They won 2 parliamentary seats in the May 2014 elections to the European parliament[2] and polled 13% in the September 2014 Swedish general elections, winning 49 seats.[8]

In December 2014, after using a power of veto to block the government's budget, was reportedly 'thriving on the sense of political crisis, with opinion polls suggesting it is set to increase its share of the vote to between 16% and 18%.'[8] Its hold on the balance of power in the Swedish parliament meant fresh elections were scheduled for March 2015 in the country. The party was disappointed when these plans that were subsequently cancelled after the centre-left and centre-right parties struck a deal, in a move interpreted as a deliberate alliance to minimise the influence of the SD.[9]

Racism

The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism stated in a 2003 report on Sweden that: "Since the September 11 attacks antisemitism has remained a cornerstone of neo-Nazi ideology while islamophobia is disseminated primarily by the more “respectable” Sweden Democrats."[10]

In March 2009, Sveriges Radio reported that an investigative team which infiltrated the party had encountered racist remarks at roughly one third of the meetings they attended:

Among other things, members of the Sweden Democrats who hold elected office said that immigrants aren’t loyal, don’t want to pay taxes, and would rather take black-market jobs.
“Those who come from these countries, they’re pretty raw and real savages… [laughter]…They are, it’s in their nature,” one elected official could be heard saying on SR’s tape.
At another meeting, immigrants are compared with dogs.
“Did you know that an immigrant who comes to Sweden from countries like Afghanistan and Africa sometimes come with 2,000 parasites in their body. Not ever our dogs have that many, and they have to sit in quarantine…,” said a Sweden Democrat representative, prompting several at the meeting to burst into laughter.[11]

Similarly, whistleblower, Daniel Assai has claimed that there are two blocs within the party, one he has described as 'ideologically racist' and the other 'more interested in power, money and publicity' yet 'the majority...are still racist' and the 'Nazi members' are 'allowed to express themselves openly behind closed doors' - just not in public.[2]

In October 2009, a survey by Demoskop found that 83 per cent of Swedes regarded the party as racist, but 38 per cent thought it was acceptable for other parties to co-operate with them.[12]

In September 2010 longstanding SD politician Per Wahlberg wrote a blog claiming that black Africans are genetically programmed to rape children.[3]

In January 2011, party leader Jimmie Åkesson claimed that immigrants were 'a little bit more criminal' than those born in Sweden.[13]

In December 2014 party secretary Björn Söder claimed in that Jews cannot be Swedes unless they abandon their Jewish identity. Despite trying to defend himself by claiming 'I have long had a very strong commitment to both the state of Israel and the Jewish people', his remarks were condemned as 'good old right wing anti-Semitism' by Swedish Jewish leaders.[8]

Others

  • Anders Dahlberg - former politician, expelled for openly racist comments[2]
  • Daniel Assai - former high-ranking member turner whistleblower[2]
  • Erik Almqvist- former economic spokesman[14], left after a racism scandal and subsequently became media consultant to the party[15]

Counterjihad links

In 2006, the party's website was closed down by its hosting company for carrying cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. This led to the resignation of Swedish foreign minister Laila Freivalds after it emerged that a Foreign Ministry official had contacted the hosting company.[16]

In 2006, the American conservative writer Bruce Bawer described the Sweden Democrats as the only sizeable party in the country that "articulates most Swedes' concerns about their country's immigration and integration policies."[17]

Sweden Democrats member Ted Ekeroth spoke at the Counterjihad Europa conference in Brussels on October 2007.[18]

In September 2009, the Party's international secretary, Kent Ekeroth hosted an 'anti-Islamisation' seminar in Mälmo. Speakers included Jordanian journalist Ghada Hanna, Mrutyuanjai Mishra from India and Alan Lake from the UK. Lake discussed how the counterjihad movement in England was building alliances with football supporters.[19]

Pegida links

According to English language translations of Swedish press reports, SD supporters were involved in the first, poorly attended protest of Pegida Swerige, an attempt to start a movement similar to the PEGIDA protests seen in Germany.[20]

Publications

The party publishes the SD-Kuriren.[7]

People

Key figures

Others

Affiliations

Contact

Notes

  1. Ivar Ekman, Anti-immigration party gains toehold in Sweden - Europe - International Herald Tribune, nytimes.com. 6 July 2006.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 Jake Wallis Simons, EU elections 2014: 'I can hear the boots of the 1930s marching through Europe', Daily Telegraph, 14 May 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Africans have 'child rape gene': Sweden Democrat, 3 September 2010, accessed 17 February 2015
  4. Jens Rydgren, From tax populism to ethnic nationalism: radical right-wing populism in Sweden, Berghahn Books, 2006, p.115.
  5. Hope Not Hate, Nationaldemokraterna, Counterjihad Report: Sweden, accessed 16 February 2015
  6. Per Nyberg, Swedish far-right leader: Success due to immigration backlash, CNN, 21 September 2012, accessed 17 February 2015
  7. 7.0 7.1 Hope Not Hate Sverigedemokraterna, Counterjihad report: Sweden, accessed 16 February 2015
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 David Crouch, Swedish far-right leader: Jews must abandon religious identity to be Swedes, The Guardian, 17 December 2014, accessed 17 February 2015
  9. Sweden cancels snap election in March 2015, The Local, 27 December 2014
  10. SWEDEN 2002-3, Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism, Tel Aviv University, accessed 17 October 2009.
  11. David Landes, Sweden Democrats in racism row, The Local, 30 March 2009.
  12. Four in ten back far-right cooperation: poll, The Local, 16 October 2009.
  13. Jimmie Akesson: Swedish immigration is 'extreme', BBC Hardtalk, 25 January 2011, accessed 17 February 2015
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Ekeroth takes 'break' after new revelations, The Local, 15 November 2012, accessed 17 February 2015
  15. Sweden Democrat Almqvist leaves parliament, becomes Party's media consultant, Radio Sweden, 31 December 2012
  16. Freivalds and Dahlgren Resign, 21 March 2006.
  17. Bruce Bawer, While Sweden Slept, New York Sun, 8 December 2006.
  18. Counterjihad Brussels 2007, CounterJihad Europa, accessed 17 October 2009.
  19. Daniel Poohl, Välbesökt SD-möte mot "islamisering", Expo, 7 September 2009.
  20. Thousands gather to oppose Pegida demo, Radio Sweden, 9 February 2015
  21. Sweden Democrat Almqvist leaves parliament, becomes Party's media consultant, Radio Sweden, 31 December 2012