Abir Al-Sahlani handing out voting slips for the Center Party.
Abir Al-Sahlani handing out voting slips for the Center Party. Credit: JESSICA GOW / TT

Low Center Party support from Swedes with foreign backgrounds

Activist: The party has been too lazy
1:07 min

The Center Party is meeting for its annual congress and enjoying a rise in the polls, but it has unusually low support among those with foreign backgrounds.

With its roots in the farmers’ movement, the Center is a long established party and has supplied prime ministers for Sweden. It now focuses on liberal and environmental politics. During the past few years it has seen its support in the polls shoot up to over 12 per cent, but among those with a foreign background it is on just 3.4 per cent. No other party has such a big gap.

It is the only party which has none of its lawmakers born outside Sweden.

Former Member of Parliament for the Center Party, Abir Al-Sahlani, is leading its work to change this situation.

She says to Swedish Radio that the party has been too lazy about developing its organization to be more inclusive. “We have missed the train.” She says that the Center Party usually recruits people via personal contacts.

Divisions between foreign and Sweden-born people is an issue the Center Party is addressing in its coming shadow budget, with SEK 500 million for increasing Swedish classes for refugee children.

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