The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats may have shunned some of its more extreme members, but the party with neo-Nazi roots is still far from being welcomed by the establishment.
While SD is poised to become a kingmaker in September’s election, potentially winning close to 20 percent, interviews with the center-right opposition leaders revealed the group will still need to make a cleaner break with its past to be welcomed as an ally.
The party has been working to shed its most extreme members and soften its language since winning 13 percent in 2014.
A new party, Alternative for Sweden, has now been formed by some of those who were excluded, which could further polish SD’s image, according to Ann-Catherine Jungar, an associate professor at Sodertorn University.
But the parties in the four-party
Alliance opposition bloc are skeptical to the notion that SD’s leadership has distanced itself from its history. According to Jan Bjorklund, the Liberal party leader, collaboration won’t happen during the foreseeable future. Center party leader Annie Loof bristled at working with a group whose party secretary has likened Islam to a Trojan Horse in the West.
“These racist views among Sweden Democrats is something that goes all the way up to the party leadership,” she said. “That’s why none of the Alliance leaders can imagine negotiating or collaborating with the Sweden Democrats.” Ebba Busch Thor, party leader for the Christian Democrats, said she doesn’t see any change in the basic values among SD’s leadership.