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|Party chairman||Jimmie Åkesson|
|Party secretary||Richard Jomshof|
|Vice-party secretary||Mattias Bäckström Johansson|
|Parliamentary group leader||Henrik Vinge|
|Founded||6 February 1988|
|Political position||Right-wing to far-right|
|European affiliation||European Conservatives and Reformists Party|
|European Parliament group||European Conservatives and Reformists|
|Nordic affiliation||Nordic Freedom|
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The Sweden Democrats or Swedish Democrats (Swedish: Sverigedemokraterna, SD) is a populist political party in Sweden founded in 1988. The party describes itself as social conservative with a nationalist foundation. The party has been characterised by others as right-wing populist national-conservative, anti-immigration, or far-right. Jimmie Åkesson has been party leader since 2005.
The party originally had its roots in Swedish fascism and white nationalism, but began distancing itself from its past during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Under the leadership of Jimmie Åkesson the SD underwent a process of reform by expelling hard-line members and moderating its platform. Today, the Sweden Democrats officially reject both fascism and Nazism.
Support for the Sweden Democrats has grown steadily since the 1990s and the party crossed the 4% threshold necessary for parliamentary representation for the first time during the 2010 general election, polling 5.7% and gaining 20 seats in the Riksdag. This increase in popularity has been compared by international media to other similar anti-immigration movements in Europe. The party received increased support in the 2018 Swedish general election, when it polled 17.5% and secured 62 seats in parliament, becoming the third largest party in Sweden. The Sweden Democrats remained isolated in the Riksdag for a long time because the other parties staunchly maintained a policy of refusing cooperation with them. However, in March 2019, Christian Democratic leader Ebba Busch Thor announced that her party was ready to start negotiations with the Sweden Democrats in the Riksdag. The Sweden Democrats are a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists group in the European Parliament.
Early years (1988–1995)
The Sweden Democrats party was founded in 1988 as a direct successor to the Sweden Party, which in turn had been formed in 1986 by the merger of Bevara Sverige Svenskt (BSS, in English: "Keep Sweden Swedish") and a faction of the Swedish Progress Party. SD claims 6 February 1988 as the date of its foundation, although observers tend to see the party's foundation as part of a complex decade-long series of events, with some even calling into question whether a meeting took place on 6 February.
According to Expo, it is generally agreed that the Sweden Democrats has never been a Nazi party, although some of the SD's early members had previously held connections to Swedish fascist and white nationalist groups. The party's first auditor, Gustaf Ekström, was a Waffen-SS veteran and had been a member of the national socialist party Svensk Socialistisk Samling in the 1940s. In 1989, Ekström was a member of the Sweden Democrats' national board. The SD's first chairman Anders Klarström had been active in the neo-Nazi Nordiska rikspartiet ("Nordic Realm Party"). The SD's logo from the 1990s until 2006 was a version of the torch used by the British National Front. The party sponsored music of the nationalist Viking rock band Ultima Thule, and various party officials today acknowledge that being fans of Ultima Thule's music factored prominently in their decision to become politically engaged. Early on, the party recommended international connections to its members such as the National Democratic Party of Germany, the American National Association for the Advancement of White People (founded by David Duke) and publications like the Nazi Nation Europa and Nouvelle École, a newspaper that advocates racial biology.
Moderation and growth (1995–2010)
In 1995, Klarström was replaced as party chairman by Mikael Jansson, a former member of the Centre Party. Jansson strove to make the party more respectable and, after skinheads started to impose on party meetings, the wearing of any kind of uniform was formally banned in 1996. Also in 1996 it was revealed that a party member, Tina Hallgren, had been to a party meeting of National Socialist Front posing in a Nazi uniform. Opposition to the party often mix these two events together and falsely claim that she was wearing the uniform at a party meeting of the Sweden Democeats and that it was because of this that the uniform ban came about. During the early 1990s, the party became more influenced by the French National Front, as well as the Freedom Party of Austria, the Danish People's Party, German The Republicans and Italian National Alliance. SD received economic support for the 1998 election from the French National Front, and was active in Le Pen's Euronat from the same time. By the end of the decade, the party took further steps to moderate itself. In 1999, the SD left Euronat although the youth wing remained affiliated until 2002. In 2001 the most extreme faction was expelled from the party, leading to the formation of the more radical National Democrats.
During the 2000s the so-called "Scania gang", also known as the "Gang of Four" or the "Fantastic Four," which consisted of the youth wing chair Jimmie Åkesson, Björn Söder, Mattias Karlsson and Richard Jomshof continued and expanded the moderation policy, which included ousting openly extremist members and reshaping the SD's platform. Before the 2002 election, former Moderate Party MP Sten Christer Andersson defected to SD, citing that the party had gotten rid of its extreme-right elements. In 2003 the party declared the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to be a cornerstone of its policies. In 2005, Akesson defeated Jansson in a leadership contest. Shortly after, the party changed its logo from the flaming torch to one featuring an Anemone hepatica, reminiscent of the party's very first, but short-lived, logo (a stylised Myosotis scorpioides).
Entrance into parliament (2010–2014)
Sweden Democrat MP William Petzäll was persuaded to leave the party on 26 September 2011 while still retaining his parliamentary seat. This was done because of Petzäll's substance abuse and the problems this might cause for SD's public image. Petzäll later died of an overdose and his seat was turned over to Stellan Bojerud in September 2012.
In November 2012, videos from August 2010 were released, in segments, over the course of three days by Swedish newspaper Expressen (a year earlier, Expressen had released the same videos without making much noise). This came to be known as the Iron pipe scandal, although the same videos had already been released on YouTube by Erik Almqvist in 2010. The videos, recorded by MP Kent Ekeroth, featured him along with fellow Sweden Democrats MP Erik Almqvist and Christian Westling. The videos show Almqvist arguing with comedian Soran Ismail: Almqvist is referring to Sweden as "my country, not your country", as an insult to Ismail. They are also shown arguing with a drunken man. A woman can also be seen approaching Kent Ekeroth while filming; he calls her a whore and pushes her out of the way. A few minutes later they are seen picking up iron bars. Coming only a month after party leader Åkesson had instated a zero-tolerance policy towards racism in the party, the release of the video caused Almqvist to leave his position as the party's economic policy spokesperson and his place in the executive committee on 14 November. He excused himself as having been under a lot of pressure and threats of violence at the time. As more segments of the video were released, revealing the other two men's involvement, the party announced on 15 November that Ekeroth would take a break from his position as the party's justice policy spokesman. Almqvist and Ekeroth both took time off from their parliament seats. Sweden Democratic Youth president Gustav Kasselstrand and vice president William Hahne criticised the decision to remove Almqvist and Ekeroth in an op-ed in Dagens Nyheter, arguing that the party should not give in to media pressure.
Only two weeks after Almqvist and Ekeroth were forced to step down, fellow MP Lars Isovaara reported being robbed of his backpack and pushed out of his wheelchair by "two unknown men of an immigrant background". When trying to get into the Riksdag, Isovaara was himself reported by the police for racial abuse against safety guards. The Sweden Democrats initially defended Isovaara, but backed down when Expressen revealed that Isovaara had actually forgotten his backpack at a restaurant, and that the two men had helped him when he fell out of his wheelchair. He left his seat in the Riksdag on 29 November, and was replaced by Markus Wiechel.
Rise in national support (2014–2018)
In the European election of 2014 SD received 9.67% of votes, winning two seats in the European Parliament and becoming the fifth party of the country. The party later joined the Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe and the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group.
In the 2014 election the Sweden Democrats received 12.9% of the votes, doubling their support and becoming the third-largest party. The party remained big in Scania and Blekinge; for example in Malmö the party received 14% of the votes, in Landskrona it received 19% of the votes and in Sjöbo a total of 30% rendering the party the largest in that municipality. Other parties, however, remained firm in their decision to isolate them from exerting influence. Out of 29 constituencies electing parliamentarians, the party was the second largest in "Scania North & East" while being the third largest party in 25. Although relying heavily on rural areas and the deep south, the party also made strong inroads and results above 15% in some medium-sized central Sweden cities such as Norrköping, Eskilstuna and Gävle, indicating a widening of its voter base in all areas.
On Monday, 23 March 2015, it was announced that Åkesson would return from his leave of absence to resume his duties as party leader following an interview to be broadcast on the Friday, 27 March instalment of the Skavlan program on SVT, and a subsequent press conference with the Swedish media.
Amid media coverage regarding the high immigration figures and the European migrant crisis, the Sweden Democrats soared in all opinion polls during the summer of 2015, even topping web-based polls from YouGov and Sentio in late summer, with a little over a quarter of the vote. The party also saw rising support in phone-based polls, although the swing was lower.
Entering mainstream politics (2018–present)
On 2 July 2018 the two Sweden Democrats MEPs left the EFDD group and moved to the European Conservatives and Reformists group.
In the 2018 general election, the SD increased its support to 17.5% of the vote, though it did not grow as much as most polls had predicted. According to Emily Schultheis of Foreign Policy, the SD won an ideological victory, as it "effectively set the terms for debate" and forced its rivals to adopt immigration policies similar to its own, and other reporters made similar observations. The SD performed particularly well in Skåne County, having the highest number of voters in 21 out of the county's 33 municipalities. An SVT analysis of the results found that at least 22 seats in 17 city councils would be empty as the Sweden Democrats won more seats than the number of candidates it had. The party also received its first mayor, in Hörby Municipality.
Following the election, Christian Democratic leader Ebba Busch Thor announced that her party was willing to enter negotiations with the Sweden Democrats in the Riksdag. In December 2019, Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson held an official meeting with the Sweden Democrat leadership for the first time, despite having previously ruled out negotiating with the party. This led to speculation that the SD could be included in a new centre-right grouping to replace the Alliance which had collapsed after the Centre Party and the Liberal Party left to support the Social Democratic led government.
In November 2019, a public opinion poll by Aftonbladet and Demoskop concluded that the Sweden Democrats had passed the Socialdemokraterna in voter support, thereby becoming the biggest party in the Riksdag, with 24% of the vote. However, according to an opinion poll conducted by Svenska Dagbladet at around the same time, there is statistical uncertainty as to whether the Sweden Democrats or Socialdemokraterna are the largest party.
Ideology and political positions
The Sweden Democrats' party programme is based on nationalism and social conservatism. Its ideological basis is described in the party's manifesto, first published on 4 May 2003 during the Jansson leadership and then revised on 8 May 2005 (one day after Åkesson became the new chairman). Nordic Studies scholar Benjamin R. Teitelbaum has called them radical nationalist. The party has been described by sociologist Jens Rydgren and others as xenophobic, racist and right-wing populist. In 2013 a Sveriges Radio journalist called the party xenophobic, which resulted in a complaint lodged to the broadcasting regulator. The Swedish Broadcasting Commission determined that this description was acceptable to use. The party itself disuptes the far-right label while placing itself in the political centre. The party rejects Nazism and in recent years has increasingly distanced itself from other European ultra-nationalist or far-right parties.
The Sweden Democrats believe that the current Swedish immigration and integration policies have been a national failure. They oppose integration because they believe that integration involves "meeting in the middle" and do not think that the Swedish people should have to bear the burden of what they claim is a reckless immigration policy. SD feels that the current situation, with a large number of immigrants living in cultural enclaves, is not beneficial for the country. They argue that the immigrants themselves are rootless, that there have been rising antagonistic tensions between various population groups (socially, ethnically, religiously and culturally), and the immigration in itself, SD says, has caused social and economic strains on the country.
As the party considers Sweden to have had too much immigration in recent years, which it claims has seriously threatened national identity and societal cohesion, SD wants to reinstate a common Swedish national identity, which in turn would mean a stronger inner solidarity. SD rejects the policy of multiculturalism. SD wishes to strongly restrict immigration, and give generous support for immigrants who instead of wanting to assimilate in Sweden voluntarily prefer to emigrate back to their country of origin. As more state funds are made free from funding mass immigration, SD believes that Sweden will be better able to help refugees in their own nearby locations. SD also calls for compulsory measures for immigrants to speak the Swedish language.
SD has referred to the recommendations from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which state that the return of refugees should be the solution to refugee problems. Torbjörn Kastell (former party secretary from 2003 to 2004) said in 2002 that the party wanted "a multicultural world, not a multicultural society". In a 2008 survey, a significant minority of 39% of all Swedes thought that there were "too many foreigners in the country", and in 2007 a survey showed that 49% of all Swedes wanted to restrict the number of asylum-seekers. In recent years SD has tried to approach the immigration policy of the Danish People's Party, which from 2001 to 2011 provided parliamentary support for the former Danish liberal/conservative government in return for a tightening of Danish immigration policies and stricter naturalisation laws.
According to Aftonbladet, 14% of SD members are of immigrant origin, which matches the share of foreign-born inhabitants of Sweden. For the 2010 election in the municipality of Södertälje (Stockholm County), SD was the only party with a majority of immigrants on its electoral list, mostly Assyrians from the Middle East. Polling 7.31% (3,447 votes), SD's municipal list in Södertälje got 5 of the 65 municipal seats. Nader Helawi and four other Swedes of immigrant origin will sit as municipal councilors. Since 2014, the SD has seen growing support from foreign-born Swedish voters, and was estimated to have become the third most popular party for voters of immigrant backgrounds by 2017.
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SD wishes to lower the tax rate for the elderly, as well as increase subsidised housing for the elderly. SD also wishes to allocate additional resources to municipalities in order to provide seniors with greater food assistance and, in general, improve their quality of life. SD has also emphasised a desire to crack down on abuses and crimes of which the elderly are particular targets.
The Sweden Democrats are critical of the special rights given to the indigenous Sami people of northern Sweden. In 2008 the party accepted a motion against the rights to reindeer husbandry. They have argued that those "who do not involve themselves with reindeer husbandry are treated as second class citizens" and that the privileges the herders have are "undemocratic". They want to restructure the councils and funds that are used to benefit the Sami population, so that they are used "regardless of ethnic identity and business operations". They also want to abolish the Sami Parliament, which claims special privileges for an "ethnic minority while the society claims equal rights for others".
Views on national identity
In an interview for Dagens Nyheter, Second Deputy Speaker of the Riksdag and then-party secretary Björn Söder elaborated on the SD party programme with respect to its views on national identity by saying that he personally did not think people with dual national identities in Sweden would necessarily identify themselves as Swedish. Although an immigrant of any ethnic background in theory can become a Swedish citizen, they would have to adapt and be assimilated in order to be considered Swedish in the cultural sense. Björn Söder stated that the officially recognised Swedish minority peoples (e.g. Sami, Tornedalians and Jews) in many cases have dual cultural identities and that they probably would be proud of both heritages. It was widely interpreted that Söder had stated in the interview that Jews cannot be Swedish unless they abandon their Jewish identity. Söder's comments were understood to be anti-semitic and caused Swedish parliamentary groups and party leaders to call for Björn Söder's resignation. The Simon Wiesenthal Center listed the statement as number six on their list of the top ten most anti-semitic events of 2014. Söder responded in the Jerusalem Post, denying the charges of anti-semitism and claiming Dagens Nyheter had taken his statements out of context.
Law and order
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SD wishes to instate the possibility of life without parole for the worst crimes and to repatriate foreign citizens found guilty of serious crimes. SD also wants to establish a public register of convicted pedophiles.
In its foreign policy, the Sweden Democrats are against further EU integration and further cession of Swedish sovereignty to the European Union. The party rejects joining the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union, aims to renegotiate Swedish membership of the Schengen Agreement, reduce Swedish financial contributions to Brussels, oppose creating a combined European defense budget, and are against the accession of Turkey to the European Union. The Sweden Democrats are supportive of Israel and favors recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital by moving the Swedish embassy there. The party also supports closer military cooperation with neighboring Nordic countries and an alignment with NATO without full membership.
The party has stated that it would seek to raise Sweden's defence spending to 2.5% of GDP if it participates in government.
The Sweden Democrats advocates a cultural policy that would strip funding for multicultural initiatives and strengthen support for traditional Swedish culture. This agenda has often manifested itself as opposition to state funding of immigrant cultural organisations and festivals, and support for traditional Swedish craft, folk music, and folk dance groups. The party also tends to oppose state support for cultural initiatives deemed provocative or elitist. A 2014 letter signed by 52 Swedish anthropologists, criticised the Sweden Democrats' use of the terms "culture" (kultur) and "anthropology" (antropologi), claiming their views on culture were "essentialist and obsolete", clarifying that culture is "dynamic" and "in constant change". The Sweden Democrats criticise modern art and want the citizens to be able to vote on public art. "The important thing is that what is expressed in the public environment is anchored to the citizens and especially the local residents who are most often in the environment so that they feel an identification", says the party's cultural spokesperson Aron Emilsson.
The Sweden Democrats also support a ban on wearing the burqa in public places.
Family and LGBT
The Sweden Democrats considers children raised in a traditional nuclear family as the preferred option for the child's development. Those not raised by their biological parents should have the right to associate with or at least find out who they were. SD previously opposed government sanctioned adoption to single people, same-sex couples and polyamorous relationships unless the adopting party are close relatives or already have a close relationship with the child. Insemination for same-sex couples and polyamorous groups is also discouraged. The party supports keeping same-sex marriage and civil partnerships legal but the ultimate decision to perform ceremonies should be decided by the individual religious institution rather than the state.
Although SD historically criticised what it calls a "Homosex Lobby", the party claims that it is not hostile to homosexuals. Party leader Jimmie Åkesson expressed concern that what he describes as Islamisation of Sweden will eventually lead to the rights of sexual minorities being violated. SD-Kuriren (the official SD party newspaper) regularly published articles attacking LGBT events and describing homosexuality as "perversion" throughout the early 2000s before moderating itself. A blog post claiming Stockholm Pride sexualised young children and equating homosexuality with pedophilia titled Botten måste snart vara nådd (Soon enough we'll hit rock bottom) was published by SD Party secretary Björn Söder on 1 August 2007. The post was widely criticised in the Swedish media as an attack on LGBT people.
An unofficial gay pride parade called Pride Järva was organised by SD member and former party magazine editor Jan Sjunnesson in the Stockolm suburbs of Tensta and Husby, two areas with large immigrant populations. The event was disavowed by the official Stockholm Pride organisation and the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights; in a joint statement both organisations called Sjunnesson "a person who's spreading hatred towards Muslims on social media [and] who's not supporting LGBT rights". Approximately 30 people participated in Pride Järva, with a larger amount of LGBT and heterosexual anti-racist counter protestors arriving to oppose them.
In recent years, the SD has softened its stances on LGBT rights and same-sex parenting with party leader Jimmie Åkesson suggesting in 2018 that the party would rewrite its program for the first time to include LGBT related issues. In a 2018 interview, SD member of the Riksdag and gender-equality spokesperson Paula Bieler stated that homophobes "are not welcome in our party."
The party argues that other countries should reduce their emissions instead of Sweden which they believe is already doing enough on that front. The party advocates keeping nuclear power plants as a prominent energy source in Sweden.
Early on in the SD's history the party was loosely associated with movements such as the National Democratic Party of Germany and during the 1990s it became linked to the French National Front and Jean Marie Le Pen through his Euronat initiative, but otherwise the party did not actively seek formal relationships outside of Sweden. Following the European election of 2014 the SD elected not to join other far-right movements and instead became a member of the more moderate right-wing Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group with the UK Independence Party. In 2015, SD began forging closer relations with the neighboring Danish People's Party and in 2018 announced an official cooperation pact with the Finns Party. All three parties are members of the Nordic Freedom group. In 2018, SD joined both the European Conservatives and Reformists group and the European Conservatives and Reformists Party in which it sits alongside the British Conservative Party.
During the 1990s many outspoken far-right and Nazi advocates were involved with the party. It was founded by, among others, the Swedish Waffen-SS veteran Gustaf Ekström and members of both older Nazi and neo-Nazi organisations. The party had flyers printed by the French National Front in the 1998 general election, and was financially backed for the 2004 European election by Belgian Bernard Mengal. The party was a member of the Euronat initiative which was set up by Jean-Marie Le Pen. However, as part of the moderation process, the Sweden Democrats have subsequently sought to distance themselves from far-right parties in Europe, including turning down an invitation to join a grouping in the European parliament with the National Front in 2014, instead choosing to ally themselves with more moderate parties during the 2014 and 2019 European elections.
The Sweden Democrats have complained about difficulties buying advertising space due to the media banning the party from advertisement, which has been criticised by free speech organisations. On 16 June 2006, Dagens Nyheter and Svenska Dagbladet decided to stop their boycott. Expressen, however, still retains a ban on Sweden Democrat advertising.
Muhammad cartoon debate
After the Danish daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten published twelve cartoons depicting Muhammad and ignited a controversy during the 2005 autumn and winter, the Sweden Democrats gave their unreserved support to the publication with reference to the freedom of speech. SD stated that it saw no reason why a Danish newspaper should be forced to abide by Muslim rules and prohibitions regarding expression. When the boycott of Danish products was launched in the Middle East, SD launched a "Buy Danish" campaign in support of Danish workers.[third-party source needed] In 2006 SD entered the Muhammad cartoon debate by publishing a cartoon depicting Muhammad on its youth league (SDU) and SD-Kuriren websites. The cartoon showed Muhammad from behind holding a mirror in front of his face. However, instead of any facial features, the mirror showed only a blank head. The cartoon was captioned "Muhammad's Face" (Swedish: Muhammeds ansikte).
The publication attracted the attention of the Swedish government, which informed internet service provider Levonline about the SD's publications. Subsequently, Levonline shut down SD's web page. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Laila Freivalds, denied any direct interference. However, at the same time, Laila Freivalds condemned the publication as a provocation. Freivalds then resigned from the Persson Cabinet after being accused of interference with press freedom and lying about such actions.
This event spurred debate on government censorship in Sweden. The Sweden Democrats also had a hate speech charge filed against them due to the posted caricature. Similar hate speech charges were filed against other Swedish publishers who had depicted Muhammad. However, these charges were immediately deemed to be unfounded by the Swedish Chancellor of Justice (Justitiekanslern).
The Sweden Democrats originally planned to publish a set of cartoons in their newspaper SD-Kuriren. However, after the controversy erupted, Jimmie Åkesson issued a statement on SD's website on 9 February 2006, stating that they would refrain from further publications online and in print, due to concerns that publishing might spur hostile actions against Swedes and Swedish interests.[third-party source needed]
The shutdown of the Sweden Democrats' websites was reported to the Committee on the Constitution by the Liberal People's Party leader Lars Leijonborg. SD filed charges against the Security Service (Säpo) and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs with the Justitiekansler and Justitieombudsmannen, alleging that the government's interference was unconstitutional.[third-party source needed] The spokesperson of the Green Party, Peter Eriksson, also expressed concern over possible government involvement in the event.
Racist incidents and expulsions
The Sweden Democrats have, among all Swedish parliamentary parties, had the largest share of elected municipal representatives resign since the 2010 elections (27.8%). Many of these resignations were brought on by racist statements or actions by these representatives.
In November 2012, party spokesperson Erik Almqvist resigned after he had been caught on tape making racist and sexist statements. Another video later surfaced, showing how Almqvist, in addition to party spokesperson Kent Ekeroth and party official Christian Westling were arming themselves with iron pipes before they sought out a confrontation with Soran Ismail, a Swedish comedian of Kurdish descent. (Iron pipe scandal)
In November 2012, parliamentarian Lars Isovaara resigned after accusing two people of foreign origin of stealing his bag (which Isovaara had left at a restaurant) and then proceeding to verbally abuse a security guard of a foreign background. Isovaara's replacement in parliament, Markus Wiechel, was found in April 2013 to have referred to a group of black people as "monkeys".
In November 2013, parliamentarian and then vice party leader Jonas Åkerlund gained attention for having called immigrants "parasites" during a broadcast on SD's own radio station in 2002, after the recording was publicly rediscovered. In his defence, Åkerlund stated that he only said it to provoke people.
In September 2014, a few weeks before the general election, the party chairman of the local Stockholm branch, Christoffer Dulny, resigned from his position. He had been posting mocking comments about immigrants, calling them "shameless liars" on alternative media sites. He also resigned from his newly won position in parliament on the same day he was elected, 29 September 2014.
In October 2016, a video of the parliamentarian and economic policy spokesperson Oscar Sjöstedt making antisemitic jokes was released. Whilst at a party, believed to have taken place in 2011, he laughingly told a story about former co-workers with Nazi sympathies mocking Jews and comparing them to sheep.
During the same month, the parliamentarian and second vice party leader Carina Herrstedt was confronted with having sent an allegedly racist, antisemitic, homophobic and anti-romanyist email to her then spouse in 2011. The email, which had been leaked from the party's internal servers, for instance contained phrases that named black football players from the team Landskrona BoIS as "niggers" whilst also picturing Romani people as thieves. The email was meant to be playful and ironic, Herrstedt told Aftonbladet.
Between 2015 and 2016 various members of the party were expelled from the SD for expressing extremist or racist views, or because of disagreement with the party's shift towards moderation and social conservatism. In April 2015, the Sweden Democratic Youth leaders were also expelled for these reasons, and the organisation was dissolved shortly after. In December 2016, the parliamentarian Anna Hagwall was thrown out of the party after using arguments associated with antisemitism to argue for a bill that she introduced in parliament intended to reduce concentration of media ownership in Sweden.
In September 2017, a report from Dagens ETC found that 14 former municipal representatives of the party had infiltrated the SD in order to financially support the Nordic Resistance Movement, a neo-Nazi organisation, through financial transactions, memberships, or purchases of antisemitic and racist literature or souvenirs. In August 2018, 2 members were kicked out due to purchases of Nazi memorabilia online; following the expulsions, Michael Erlandsson, one of the SD spokesmen, publicly stated that people who "have these types of views and share these types of materials" have no place in the party. 14 candidates were expelled from the party as well after being exposed as former members of neo-Nazi organisations. Referring to the latest expulsions, SD leader Jimmie Åkesson declared that the party "works extremely hard to keep clean".
Ashley Fox, leader of the British Conservative MEPs, praised the Sweden Democrats regarding the party's policy decisions on the expulsion of extremist and racist members: "Over the past decade the Sweden Democrats have made progress in reforming themselves, expelling any members displaying unacceptable views or behaviour and diversifying their party base."
The Sweden Democrats came under fire in 2015 for changing their position on profits made by private welfare companies. Before the election in 2014 they favored having restrictions on the amount of profit that welfare companies could take and use for their own gain. Since the election, they have favored the approach of the Alliance parties, that is higher and more restrictive quality standards. This has been suspected to be because of extensive lobbying done by the organisation Svenskt Näringsliv among others. The story was discovered by the Swedish newspaper Dagens Industri on 14 September 2015. SD has denied all accusations of corruption.
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First Deputy Party leader
Second Deputy Party leader
- Jonas Åkerlund (2005–2006)
- Anna Hagwall (2006–2009)
- Carina Ståhl Herrstedt (2009–2019)
- Julia Kronlid (2019–present)
- Jakob Eriksson (1998–2001)
- Jimmy Windeskog (2001–2003)
- Torbjörn Kastell (2003–2004)
- Jan Milld (2004–2005)
- David Lång (2005)
- Björn Söder (2005–2015)
- Richard Jomshof (2015–present)
Parliamentary group leader
- Leif Zeilon and Jonny Berg (1988–1989; spokespersons)
- Ola Sundberg and Anders Klarström (1989–1990; spokespersons)
- Anders Klarström and Madeleine Larsson (1990–1992; spokespersons)
Other prominent party members
According to the Statistiska Centralbyrån (SCB) 2017 party preference survey the Sweden Democrats (SD) have a stronger support among men than among women. There is no noticeable difference in support for the party among different age groups. The support for SD is greater among native born than among foreign born. Since 2014 the SD has substantially increased its support among both foreign-born and foreign-background voters, becoming the third largest party in Sweden also among this demographic by 2017. Sympathies are greater for the party among persons with primary and secondary education than among those with a higher education. The 2018 party preference survey of the SCB show that SD has twice as much support among men than among women.
|Preference for SD||2014||2017||2018||2020|
|Preference for SD and education||2014||2017||2018||2020|
|Secondary education||7.7%||17.5%||19.8%||22.0 %|
|Post-secondary education less than three years||2.5%||10.4%||7.8%||10.0%|
|Post-secondary education three years or more||1.7%||4.8%||6.0%||6.7%|
|Preference for SD and income||2014||2017||2018||2020|
|Preference for SD and socioeconomic group||2014||2017||2018||2020|
|Unskilled blue-collar workers||8.9 %||16.3%||20.6%||24.1%|
|Skilled blue-collar workers||9.5%||22.6%||22.1%||26.3%|
|Lower level white-collar worker||6.3%||12.2%||12.1%||11.8%|
|Middle level white-collar workers||2.9%||8.7%||10.7%||12.6%|
|Higher level white-collar workers||2.3%||7.2%||7.7%||10.7%|
|Self-employed (including farmers)||6.2%||16.3%||17.7%||24.8%|
|Other businessmen (including farmers)||12.2%||21.8%||16.7%||27.0%|
- "SD About Page". sd.se. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
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