Åkesson: "We are needed more than ever"
Jimmie Åkesson, the leader of the opposition Sweden Democrats, kicked off his party's annual conference, held in Lund, by saying that critics believe his party is unnecessary - that the party has wound up overshadowed by what other parties are doing now on immigration.
"Spontaneously, one can think that it's good, that others are now doing what we have said the whole time," said Åkesson, "but it's a little remarkable that what people used just a month or two ago to accuse us of all kinds of oddities like racism and xenophobia, now suddenly it's called taking responsibility. We are needed more than ever."
Jimmie Åkesson made a short introductory speech in Lund, where the party leader took up the latest developments on the tighter regulations on asylum immigration.
Ahead of the speech, he told news agency TT that the party was very pleased with the proposal the government made recently to restrict the flow of refugees to Sweden.
"What we need is to go even further - to close the border for asylum immigration. That's the only measure I see that actually can reduce the pressure on Sweden," he said.
He said there are differences between his party and others, pointing out that the government's suggestion is temporary.
"But I believe it will be extremely difficult to turn back once we've gone down this road," he said.
Svenska Dagbladet newspaper reported Thursday that Åkesson wants to conduct surveys among the population of Muslims living in Sweden to see, for example, how widespread religious radicalism is. Critics have shot back that that would constitute illegally registering people's opinions.
Åkesson is expected to be re-elected as the party's leader during the Conference.