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All eyes on the Swedish Democrats

The far-right Swedish Democrats (SD) are still on course for a strong result on the forthcoming legislative elections of Sunday, September 9.

Opposition to migration is still at the heart of their political message, while they try to get rid of the “Neo-Nazi” brand and adopt the most sanitized outlook of a “Euro-Critical” movement a la Lega. They are doing well.

State of Play

In 2014 the SD secured just under 13%. All polls suggest they are now well into double digits; a poll by Sentio published on August 30 suggests they were, in fact, leading with 24%, ahead of the ruling Social Democrats. However, that poll stands alone.

In a poll of polls published by the public broadcaster Sveriges Radio on Wednesday, the Sweden Democrats appear to be losing some ground, mainly to the benefit of smaller parties. They poll an average of 17,7%, which would bring them at third place, below the centre-right Moderates and the incumbent Social Democrats.

The Christian Democrats and the Liberals are reaping some of the benefits. Political analysts suggest that this may be a tactical turn of conservative voters who want to ensure that an ideologically cohesive centre-right alliance – rather than a German-style Red-Blue coalition – can be formed.

Centre-right parties currently poll at a combined 38,9%, that is, an 8 points lead from the ruling coalition and a whisker below the majority required to form a government.

But the Sweden Democrats, who had been polling as high as 25 per cent in some reports, have shrunk for four months in a row and are on 17.7 per cent, a whisker below the centre-right Moderate Party.

Dual Citizenship

The SD has traditionally raised the flag of anti-immigration rhetoric, as polarisation tends to hurt smaller parties and boost their electoral results.

This campaign has been no different, with SD calling for an end to dual citizenship. Although there is no database detailing how many Swedes are dual nationals, there have been 750,000 naturalisations since 2000.

Sweden’s population is 9,9 million people.

SD stand alone on this matter, which is a problem that goes beyond immigration and is causing friction with the indigenous Finnish national minority. The ruling Social Democrats have endorsed the debate with gusto, launching the “Don’t Touch My Citizenship” campaign.

Pressed on the matter, the Sweden Democrats are now talking about the possibility of “exceptions” for people who have citizenship in another Nordic country.

Blurred clarity of message

SD has been eager to take off the neo-Nazi stain off their political brand. Their 39-year-old leader, Jimmie Akesson,” chants slogans like “no racists on our streets,” according to a DW report.

The incumbent Social Democrats frequently recall the party’s neo-Nazi past, referring to SD as “a neo-fascist single-issue party,” although the party’s leadership often suggests that being anti-immigration should not be equated to Nazism. They are vehement in their opposition to multiculturalism but insist their opposition is not racially motivated and proclaim their affinity to other conservative parties in Europe.

However, the party does trace its roots in the Keep Sweden Swedish movement disbanded in 1986 and refounded as SD in 1988. Many of the party’s historical leaders were members of the Waffen SS.

Just as Marine Le Pen tries to put behind the toxic anti-Semitism of her father’s party, Akesson claims SD is reformed since he took over in 2005. He even proclaims himself an activist opposing racism and xenophobia. Still, the Expressen newspaper and the Expo magazine have published features on at least eight SD candidates that have been members of the Neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance movement until as recently as 2016.

An original version of this article was published with New Europe under the title “Swedish Democrats go after dual Citizenship”: