Sweden Democrats reach EU compromise

The Sweden Democrat leadership have been forced to make a compromise with party members over whether the party should demand that Sweden leaves the European Union.

Party bosses had planned to write in the party's EU manifesto that the Sweden Democrats want to re-negotiate Sweden's EU membership, but that did not go far enough for rank-and-file members at the party conference in Västerås this weekend. In a compromise they agreed to change the phrasing, Swedish Radio News reports.

The new policy says Sweden should leave the EU if negotiations fail, and a national referendum supports leaving. Previous manifestos have included the demand to leave the EU.

Afterwards, party leader Jimmie Åkesson was re-elected party leader. In his speech Åkesson claimed the Sweden Democrats were the only true opposition party in Sweden, saying the other seven parties in parliament were basically just different wings of the same social liberal party.

"We are the alternative to the irresponsible immigration policies of the other seven", he added.

He added the party was to start a special campaign to win traditional Social Democrat voters. In a part of the speech aimed at Social Democrat leader Stefen Löfven, Åkesson said: "We will visit your strongest areas, we will visit the workplaces where your voters work, we will show that you and your party have betrayed the ideas that built the Swedish welfare state once upon a time."

The xenophobic and anti-immigration Sweden Democrats are currently Sweden's third largest party according to opinion polls. Next year sees European, local, regional and national elections in Sweden.