A Swedish anti-immigration party with roots in the neo-Nazi movement has hijacked Donald Trump’s presidential campaign slogan ahead of this weekend’s general election.
The Sweden Democrats (SD), a far-right populist party thriving on voter discontent, has vowed to ‘make Sweden great again’ as the country prepares to go to the polls on Sunday.
The slogan, appropriated by Sweden Democrats town councillor Mats Seijboldt from the now United States President, urges voters to throw their support behind a party that is tipped to win about 20 per cent of votes nationwide.
The Sweden Democrats could become the second largest group in parliament behind Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s centre-left Social Democrats.
Support for the once-fringe Sweden Democrats party has swollen to around 20 per cent – up from the 13 per cent it won in 2014. Part of that success reflects disillusionment with the governing coalition between the Social Democrats and the Green Party, which has run the country for the past four years.
Nestled deep in Sweden’s mining country, Lindesberg has an old-time small-town charm: its imposing Lutheran church overlooks cobblestone streets with locals calmly strolling about on their daily errands.
There are no telling signs that this is one of the strongest bastions of the far-right party.
The few people out on a rainy day in late August, of various ages and origins, stop to exchange pleasantries, with just days to go before the country’s local and legislative elections.
SD, founded in 1988, is tipped to win about 20 per cent of votes nationwide, according to an average of seven polling institutes published in the past 10 days.
That would make it Sweden’s second or third biggest party.
Two hours northwest of Stockholm by car, Lindesberg seems a world away from the disadvantaged suburbs of Sweden’s big cities – and the associated debate on immigration.
Figures provided by municipal authorities show that 186 foreigners were granted residency permits in Lindesberg in 2017, or just 0.8 per cent of the 23,000-strong population.
Seijboldt claims to say ‘Yes’ to immigration when it is managed ‘in a good and positive way’.
Yet the SD is thriving in Lindesberg on voter discontent.
In the 2014 election, it clinched 21 percent of votes and eight seats on the Lindesberg town council, second only to the Social Democrats who govern nationally.
In one Lindesberg district, SD won 37 percent, its strongest score in the nation.