Far-right Sweden Democrats reach record high in opinion polls

The far-right Sweden Democrats have reached their highest ever level of support, according to the latest party sympathy survey carried out by national number-crunching agency Statistics Sweden.

Far-right Sweden Democrats reach record high in opinion polls
Sweden Democrat leader Jimmi Åkesson speaking in a parliamentary debate. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg / TT

Meanwhile the Social Democrats (S), who are currently governing in coalition with the Green Party, have seen a sharp drop in support.

The Sweden Democrats (SD) achieved their best ever result in the Statistics Sweden poll with 22.6 percent, which would make them the second biggest party. According to Statistics Sweden, that translates to almost 1.7 million SD voters, or 412,000 more than in the last such poll in May. Since then, the party has seen a 5.5 point increase.

The party's deputy spokesperson Henrik Vinge said he was “proud and pleased” by the apparent growth in support, and said it was due to his party's anti-immigration stance.

Vinge noted that his party had “drawn a link between mass immigration and growing criminality and between mass immigration and the costs that mean we can't afford welfare and healthcare in Sweden”. 

Sweden's system of bloc politics and proportional representation means that even if the Sweden Democrats emerge as the largest or second largest party in the 2022 general election, they may still not be able to enter government. That would depend on whether they could negotiate a deal with other parties, most likely the Moderates (M) and Christian Democrats (KD) who after the last election were open to governing together with SD support.

It was a disagreement over whether the conservative parties would accept so-called passive support from the SD that led to the breakdown of the four-party centre-right Alliance, made up of the Moderates, Christian Democrats, Centre Party and Liberal Party. The latter two parties ultimately chose to offer their passive support to the Social Democrat-Green coalition — meaning they are not in government but allow the centre-left parties to govern in exchange for a say on some policies — rather than be part of a government backed by the SD.

The Social Democrats received their worst result ever at 26.3 percent, despite remaining the largest individual party. That meant a 1.3 point fall from the May survey.

“We are in a January deal, which is good for Sweden as a whole but which has also cost us some trust, since there are parts which have been unpopular proposals,” Social Democrat party secretary Lena Rådström Baastad said, referring to the four-party government deal agreed at the start of this year. 

“At the same time, we can say that people are concerned about how healthcare works and whether welfare retains the quality they expect. Here we see a great responsibility for ourselves, we are going to need to prioritize welfare in every coming budget negotiation,” she added. 

The centre-right Moderates are now just the third most popular party in government with 18.3 percent of the support in the poll, which was however an increase from the May result of 16 percent. And the Christian Democrats performed the worst in the poll, with their support almost halving from 13 percent in May to only 6.6 percent.

The Liberals had risen slightly to gain 4.1 percent in the latest poll, while the Centre Party noted a small rise to reach 7.3 percent.

The Left Party and Green Party saw a decline in support, falling to 8.1 percent and 5.1 percent respectively. 

All in all, this means that a potential conservative bloc made up of the Moderates, Christian Democrats and Sweden Democrats would be almost equal to a bloc made of the four parties who are included in the January deal plus the Left Party, whose passive support is needed for the deal to function. The former grouping gets 47.5 percent and the latter 50.9 percent.

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Swedish populists call for crime-hit areas to be demolished

The populist Sweden Democrats party has called for the most severely crime-hit areas in Sweden to be demolished, and their populations moved elsewhere in a policy drawn from Denmark's controversial 'ghetto plan'.

Swedish populists call for crime-hit areas to be demolished

The party said it wanted to first use urban planning strategies to “build away” crime-hit areas, but that if that fails, it believed the worst areas should be demolished, as has happened to apartment blocks in cities in Denmark.

“We need to look at demolitions as an alternative,” the party’s leader, Jimmie Åkesson, said at a press conference on Tuesday to launch measures to combat the so-called “parallel society”. 

He said that Sweden was “plagued by escalating serious crime”, and that no other problem faced by society so severely diminished Swedes’ freedom. 

Other measures include bringing in so-called ‘search zones’ in areas badly affected by crime, or “culturally burdened”, another measure taken from Denmark. 

Search zones in Denmark have empowered the police to stop and search people on the street, on their bicycles, or in their cars, without the officer needing to secure a search warrant, or even having reasonable suspicion.

Danish police can then check people’s possessions, search their bags, and even carry out a body search. 

The Sweden Democrats said that police in visitation zones would also be able to raid flats and apartments in certain areas without needing to secure the normal permits. 

Swedish authorities can then mount “dawn raids” on addresses where they have suspicion to believe that more people are living than are registered as doing so. Anyone then found to be living in Sweden without a residency permit would then be immediately deported. 

The party also said that it wanted foreign citizens with “coordination numbers” or samordningsnummer to have biometric data such as their fingerprints and irises collected in the same way as those who receive national identity cards do. 

“This is a question of locking up and in some cases deporting criminals who are a threat to society,” Åkesson said.