Sweden Democrats riding high in major opinion poll
A sharp drop for the governing Social Democrats and wind in the sails for the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats - that according to Sweden's biggest opinion poll, which is done twice a year.
During the month of November, 9000 people have been asked what party they would vote for if there was an election today. For the biggest party in government, the Social Democrats, the poll suggests a decline in voter support from 31 per cent in the election last year, down to 27,6 today.
Meanwhile, 19,9 per cent of those polled said they would vote for the party that has cutting immigration to a bare minimum as its main policy, the Sweden Democrats. That is up 7 percentage points compared to the election result.
"The Sweden democrats have established themselves on a higher level. One of every 5 voters sympathise with them and that is quite an amazing difference from (last year's election) result," says Marja Lemne, political scientist and assistant professor at Stockholm University.
The smaller party in the government coalition, the Greens, also sees a slump in voter support. Down one percentage point to 5,9 per cent.
The new figures also come as a dark cloud for the Christian Democrats, who elected a new leader after the election. They are down 1,1 per cent from the election result, which lands the party below the 4 per cent threshold to get into parliament.
For the biggest party in the centre-right Alliance, the conservative Moderates, the poll result is more or less the same as on election day, but compared to the big Statistics Sweden poll in May it is down by two percentage points. Marja Lemne says this is in fact more surprising than the fact that the Social Democrats are not doing well.
"It is not that surprising that the political party in power, that is the Social Democrats, fall back somewhat. It is more surprising that the moderates (do so). They have changed their policies quite radically since the election and they have a new party leader, but there is no effect among the voters," she says.
According to the pollster, the biggest part of the people who used to vote for another party but now say they favour the Sweden Democrats, are former Moderate Party voters.
The poll comes after months when tens of thousands of people have been fleeing from war-zones to come as refugees to Sweden. As the Sweden Democrats has profiled themselves as the anti-immigration party - there could be a link there, says Marja Lemne.
She notes that another poll recently showed that 7 out of 10 would like to tighten the rules for immigration and refugee reception. At odds with this is assumed link is the fact that the Sweden Democrats have not been that visible in the media during these months, she says, but still their popularity seem to grow. It could be that people are already so familiar with their policies on immigration that they think they know what the Sweden Democrats stand for.
The poll was carried out before the recent announcement from the government of much tighter rules on immigration, so it does not reflect any effect from that. According to Marja Lemne it is however unsure what such an effect would be.
"There has been some speculation in the media that now when everyone takes over their policies so to speak, that they would fall back, but you haven't seen that effect yet," says Marje Lemne.
According to the poll, the four centre-right Alliance parties are now as big as the three centre left parties, both blocks at 39 per cent.
As many as 19 per cent of those polled were undecided as to which party they would vote for if there was an election today.