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Sweden Democrat party leader invited to Nobel banquet for first time

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TT/The Local - [email protected]
Sweden Democrat party leader invited to Nobel banquet for first time
Featuring royals, ministers, laureates and diplomats, the Nobel dinner is one of the biggest events in Sweden. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Jimmie Åkesson, party leader for the far-right Sweden Democrats, will be invited to the Nobel Prize banquet for the first time this year, alongside the ambassadors for Russia, Iran and Belarus.

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“Unfortunately, I’m busy that day,” he wrote on his Facebook page in response to the invitation.

Historically, all party leaders of political parties in parliament have been invited to the Nobel dinner, although when the Sweden Democrats entered parliament in 2010 the Nobel Foundation agreed that they would not be invited, and that policy has remained in place until this year.

“The Nobel Foundation has decided to establish a new praxis for invitations to the Nobel dinner and will invite all party leaders of parliamentary parties this year,” foundation CEO Vidar Helgesen told Sveriges Radio.

In the 2022 election, the Sweden Democrats overtook the Moderates – the party of Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson – as Sweden's second-largest party, and they now act as a supporting party for the government, which is made up of the Moderates, Christian Democrats and Liberals.

The foundation explained on its website that the decision was made as “dialogue between people who think differently” is becoming less common worldwide, a trend it wants to combat.

"The achievements we award are based on openness, exchange and dialogue between people and nations, and we wish to contribute to more of that dialogue," Helgesen continued.

Last year, Åkesson said he wouldn't attend the banquet even if he was invited.

In comments to P4 Östergötland, Åkesson confirmed he would not be attending the banquet.

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"It's reasonable that all party leaders are invited. It hasn't been that way in recent years since we entered parliament, but that's the case now. Unfortunately I'm busy that day, so I won't be able to make it," he said.

It's not clear what Åkesson will be doing instead.

"I haven't decided yet. But I know I'm very busy."

Jimmie Åkesson isn't the only new person to be invited under the Nobel foundation's new policy – the ambassadors for Russia, Iran and Belarus, who were not invited last year, will also be invited to attend the banquet on December 10th.

"We consider it a good idea to also invite states who need to hear about the importance of democracy and human rights," Helgesen said.

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