Mon. Dec 6th, 2021

Sweden’s populist anti-immigration party is openly talking about ways to join or support a potential Conservative government and end a decade of political exclusion.

The moves by the Sweden Democrats to create an emerging conservative bloc with two mainstream center-right parties are changing the balance in the country’s politics. They come as the rival Social Democrats try to stay in power under new leader Magdalena Andersson, which would be Sweden’s first female prime minister.

Stefan Lofven thank you this month as prime minister and party leader after losing a parliamentary vote of no trust.

The Sweden Democrats, long avoided by all other political groups because of their roots in the neo-Nazi movement, were brought out of the cold by the center-right parties as their years-long focus on immigration and law and order prevailed. the political agenda. Sweden has become a European focus for shootings and bombings as part of a gang crime wave.

The Sweden Democrats first entered parliament in 2010, gaining 17.5 per cent in the last election in 2018, making them the third largest party.

As the country’s political unrest escalated, they came closer to their goal of forming a Conservative bloc, first team with center-right parties for a joint immigration policy.

This month, for the first time, they presented a joint budget proposal with the two largest center-right parties, the Moderates and Christian Democrats. Along with another center-right group, the four parties are short of a majority seat in parliament.

Magdalena Andersson, right, is congratulated by former Prime Minister Stefan Lofven after she was elected leader of the Social Democratic Party © Bjorn Larsson Rosvall / Reuters

Mattias Karlsson, the Swedish Democrats’ former acting leader and chief ideologue, told the Financial Times that the party was “rather pragmatic” about gaining influence over its main issues of “national identity, security and immigration”.

“What really matters is what we can get in terms of political content. If we feel we can change society more by being in government, we will probably do so. If we believe we can get more by being outside and influencing every budget, then we would. It is not a goal in any case, “he added.

The joint budget agreement “is another step on the burden of normalizing the Sweden Democrats in party politics. It is easy to forget how controversial they once were, ”said Nichola Aylott, associate professor at Sodertorn University. “Eleven years ago, when the Sweden Democrats first came to parliament, they were totally ostracized, on both a political and personal level.”

Karlsson said the political alignment with the center-right is “greater than ever” and that the three parties “can now talk openly about any topic”.

The Moderates, the largest opposition party led by Ulf Kristerson, said they would prefers to rule with other center-right groups and not the Sweden Democrats in government.

But the Center Party, one of four nominally center-right groups, supported both Lofven and Andersson, leaving the Moderates with little choice but to hug the Sweden Democrats.

Ulf Kristerson, leader of the Moderates, the largest opposition party, said they would prefer not to have the Sweden Democrats in government © Stina Stjernkvist / EPA

Lofven was the first Swedish head of government to lose a vote of no confidence. Andersson is now in talks with the former Communist Party of the Left Party in an attempt to become prime minister, possibly as soon as this week, and implement next year’s budget.

Karlsson said he expects the Social Democrats to take a stricter direction against crime and immigration under Andersson ahead of elections scheduled for September, in an effort to win back the working class.

“They will use this opportunity to go into opposition against themselves. There are going to be a lot of crime rules in trying to get some of our voters back. But the interesting thing is: the working group has lost their workers, “he added.

Sweden has become accustomed to bombings and crimes such as a 14-year-old who was shot dead in the central town of Eskilstuna on Saturday. Rapper alone, who is linked to several crime figures and was abducted by a fellow musician, was recently shot dead in what police described as an execution-like murder.

Karlsson blamed the Social Democrats mostly and the Moderates, who were in power from 2006-14, for what he called Sweden’s “loss of innocence”. He added: “We accepted more immigrants than we could integrate and instead an American-inspired gangster culture took root.”

He said the left prefers to talk about “more teachers, more social workers and the planting of more flowers”, but although there is finally room for that, the priority will be to strike the gangs.

“As long as the gangs are still there that threaten the social structure of these areas, you have to go really hard against them and remove them. And then you go in with social measures, ”he added.

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