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Sweden Democrats promise 'softer tone' after troll factory sparks right-wing rift

Emma Löfgren
Emma Löfgren - [email protected]
Sweden Democrats promise 'softer tone' after troll factory sparks right-wing rift
Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson adopted anything but a soft tone when talking about the documentary. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The Sweden Democrats on Thursday continued to hit back at a TV4 documentary that revealed a troll factory run by the far-right party, but promised to adopt a softer tone in social media when posting about its government allies in the future.

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The announcement came after Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson sharply criticised Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson, after the latter referred to the documentary as a "gigantic domestic influence operation" by the "collective left-liberal establishment".

"It's a dreadful Americanisation of politics," Kristersson told the TT news agency, presumably referring to the similarities between former US President Donald Trump and the six-minute video posted by Åkesson in which he launched a verbal attack on Swedish journalists.

The documentary, in which a reporter working for TV4's Kalla Fakta programme goes undercover within the Sweden Democrats' communications department, reveals a number of things, including attempts at smear campaigns on politicians from other parties.

It reveals a total of 23 different anonymous accounts spread across TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, which are all run by the Sweden Democrats and also spread for example radical anti-immigration views. These accounts have a combined 260,000 followers and published roughly 1,000 posts in the first three months of the year, which were viewed over 27 million times.

In one clip, communications head Joakim Wallerstein tells the group of troll factory workers to “find shit” on the Christian Democrats’ top candidate for the EU parliament, Alice Teodorescu Måwe – despite the fact that the so-called Tidö coalition agreement between the Moderates, Christian Democrats, Liberals and the Sweden Democrats states that they should respect and not attack each other.

The leaders of the other three right-wing parties all called the revelations a violation of the Tidö agreement, but Kristersson told TT that the collaboration would continue, although he added that trust in the Sweden Democrats had been damaged. Asked whether or not it was possible to trust the Sweden Democrats, who until now have consistently denied rumours of a troll factory, he said:

"I can't answer that right now," adding "I think there are clear signs that they have smeared opponents."

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Sweden Democrat party secretary Mattias Bäckström Johansson reiterated on Thursday that they consider the documentary an "influence operation", but promised to adjust some of their posts on social media in the future, specifically the ones that mention the other Tidö parties.

"We are prepared to make small adjustments to soften the tone going forward, so that we can again focus on solving important problems in society," he told TT, saying that the posts were satire clips spread by two members of the party's communications department.

He said the pair would be assigned other jobs until they've been trained in the Tidö agreement's so-called "respect clause", and that the Sweden Democrats had shown the other three parties a list of social media posts about those three parties that they would delete.

But the Liberals said it wasn't enough and demanded that the Sweden Democrats close down all anonymous accounts, that the four Tidö parties halt all joint press conferences until the EU election, and that the Sweden Democrats commit to following the respect clause.

Representatives of the four parties were set to meet on Thursday afternoon.

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Kevin 2024/05/16 13:39
This should be the end of the partnership with SD but it won't because Kristersson and M krav power more than doing the right thing. He and he is party are weak and SD know this.

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