Moderate leader to address party members after Sweden Democrat talks
Moderate Party Leader Anna Kinberg Batra is expected on Saturday to try to win back voters lost by her party's talks with the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats. A former Moderate supporter tells Radio Sweden she faces an uphill struggle.
When Anna Kinberg Batra addresses a national meeting of party members in Karlstad on Saturday, it could be one of the most important speeches of her career.
The Moderates have been rapidly losing support since Kinberg Batra opened parliamentary talks with the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats at the end of January.
Many have moved to the Centre Party, which according to a recent poll is now just four percentage points away from overtaking the Moderates to become the largest party in the centre-right Alliance bloc.
The poll, carried out by Sifo and Svenska Dagbladet, found that the Centre Party had the support of 14.2 per cent of those surveyed, up from 6.2 per cent in a poll carried out in March last year.
Over the same period, the Moderates had gone from having the support of 26.9 per cent of those surveyed to just 18.4 per cent.
Per Brantmark, a former Moderate voter who has switched allegiance, told Radio Sweden that he could not support a party which negotiated with the Sweden Democrats.
“The main reason is their flirt towards the right-wing parties and Jimmie Åkesson,” he said.
To support the Moderates nowadays would be in my opinion a little bit to support the Sweden Democrats as well.”
Brantmark, a teacher from Malmö, said he did not think Kinberg Batra would be able to win back his vote whatever she said in her speech on Saturday.
“That’s going to really hard, because it’s the same person,” he said. “To me, there’s going to have to be major change for me to go back, and before the next election certainly, there’s no time for that.”
Annie Lööf, the leader of the Centre Party, has transformed a former farmers' party into a vehicle for those, like Brantmark, on the liberal right.
The party emphasises environmental issues and is one of the few in Sweden to promote an “open" and "generous” immigration policy.
Brantmark said he was also attracted by Lööf’s tough debating style.
“She’s the only one in Swedish politics at the moment who could have a debate with the Sweden Democrats and win.”