The Sweden Democrats - Sverigedemokraterna

3:20 min

With its anti-immigration stance, the Sweden Democrats was a controversial newcomer to parliament in 2010. The party has fascist and racist roots, but today mainly speak about not mixing cultures.

"The Sweden Democrats are a party that somehow manages to combine popular issues with their aversion to immigration, says Tomas Ramberg. At the same time they're pushing issues that are important to senior citizens, like raising pension payments and lowering taxes, they want to invest more in health care. Issues that traditionally belong in the political centre, or perhaps the Social Democratic fold."

The Sweden Democrats are the youngest of the eight parties in Parliament. The party was founded in 1988 to preserve Swedish values and to reducing immigration to Sweden. Initially, the party was led by a number of people linked to Nazi and right-wing extremist groups. But in 2005, the current party leader Jimmie Åkesson, took over as their head.

The party made its way into parliament in 2010 with 5.7 percent of the vote. Since then it's tried to polish its political image and get rid of some of the stains from the past, according to Ramberg.

"The Sweden Democrats started out as a group with fascist and racist ideas and has eventually tried to become a more presentable party," he says. "They've revamped their politics from being openly racist to talking about not mixing cultures instead. They're saying that multiculturalism is wrong, that it creates conflicts and problems, and that that's why we should put a stop to immigration."

Immigration and asylum policy are the core issues for the Sweden Democrats. This election, the party is pushing for a ninety percent reduction in immigration, but they also want to improve working conditions in health care and lower taxes for senior citizens. The party also demands that those who come to Sweden adapt to Swedish culture and values - especially those coming from Muslim countries. Party leader Jimmie Åkesson recently said that Islamism is the Nazism of our time.

Ideologically speaking, the Sweden Democrats are a socially conservative party with a nationalist foundation, who want to preserve Swedish traditions, increase punishments for criminals and to invest more in care for the elderly. When it comes to economic policy, the party has planted itself in the centre and has lent its support to the red-green opposition parties as well as the centre-right alliance.

According to Tomas Ramberg, the Sweden Democrats draw most of their support among young, low-skilled and often unemployed people. But he says the party is now trying to attract voters from both the Social Democrats and the Moderates to gain more sway.

"The Sweden Democrats are stealing voters from the Moderates and are weakening the centre-right alliance, but they would love to weaken the left instead", Tomas Ramberg says. "Because their ability to influence is depending on neither of the traditional political blocs gaining a majority in Parliament. Right now it looks like the Social Democrats can lean on a majority in the political left, and the Sweden Democrats want to avoid that. They would rather see the blocs melt and shrink so the Sweden Democrats can gain influence and become the party tipping the scales in important decisions."