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Sweden Democrats 'may fall apart': experts

Published: 15 Nov 2012 17:43 GMT+01:00
Updated: 15 Nov 2012 17:43 GMT+01:00

As the far-right Sweden Democrats react to an unfolding scandal stemming from a video clip displaying bad behaviour by leading party members, experts claim the episode may cause a simmering rift to finally break open.

The scandal, dubbed SD-Gate by some in the press, is currently dominating the Swedish media landscape and was spawned by the publication of a video clip featuring two Sweden Democrat MPs in a drunken tirade in which they threatened a drunken man and hurled racist insults.

And some political experts believe that SD-Gate could inflict long-lasting damage on the party.

“A risk for the Sweden Democrats is that the scandal might cause an open split in the party. Some members might choose to become members of the more radical National Democratic party,” Ann-Cathrine Jungar told The Local.

Jungar is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Social Sciences at Södertörn University College near Stockholm who is working on a research project about populist radical right-wing parties in Europe.

Jungar's prediction of an impending split within the Sweden Democrats is also supported by political scientist Johan Hinnefors.

“I can easily see that this could become an internal battle and that is never good if you want to attract the regular voters,” Hinnfors told the Svenska Dagbladet, (SvD) newspaper.

He believes that Åkesson's decision to strip Erik Almqvist of his responsibilities might upset some of the party’s supporters who don't view the 2010 video clip, featuring bad behaviour by Almqvist as well as MP Kent Ekeroth and party member Christian Westling, as a big deal.

Indeed, the decision to strip Almqvist of his title as the party’s economic policy spokesman has proven controversial within the party, with many Sweden Democrats voicing their support for him.

However, several of the party’s district leaders have expressed their dismay over how Ekeroth and Almqvist behaved in the film and support Åkesson's handling of the situation.

At the same time, leaders of the party’s youth organization, SDU, have criticized how Almqvist has been treated by the party's leadership.

So far, neither of the Sweden Democrat MPs in the film have been forced to give up their seats in the Riksdag.

However, if Almqvist and Ekeroth are forced to give up their seats in the Riksdag the seats will not remain empty for long.

“The potential replacements will probably have to go through a proper examination to make sure that they don’t have any skeletons in the closet,” Jungar told The Local.

She added that it is hard to predict the potential long-term effects of the scandal.

“In the short-term I think that the political support for the Swedish Democrats will drop, but it is difficult to see what the long-term effects will be. It depends on how they deal with the situation,” she said.

Johan Martinsson, a political scientist at the University of Gothenburg who studies political attitudes and political behaviour, doesn't think the scandal will affect the Sweden Democrats’ support in the long-term.

“You've got to remember that most scandals do not have any great effect on voters’ party sympathies. What is huge in the media might have a small effect on the voters. The effects are short-term and not as large as you might think,” Martinsson told TT.

Martinsson added that one result of the scandal is that the opposition against the party might get more strength from the scandal.

And a review of entries on social media such as Twitter and Facebook, which have exploded with entries about the scandal with a subtext of “we told you so”, indicates Martinsson might be right.

Eric Johansson

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Your comments about this article

19:45 November 15, 2012 by Children Of Adam
It does not matter if this happened in 2010 or 2012, the issue is in their HEART of SD members who preaches hates and these days SD party is trying to act like normal party but the main agenda is once they get much POWER they can turn like a Hitler, for now SD is just trying to fool the voters by saying we are not racists but inside their heart that is how they would behave once they are in power.

They can become fascist like Hitler once they have enough vote and the image of Sweden to the world would be "OH you racist people". suddenly the blonde would be labelled as racist :P

see the law of Sweden is not so easy for immigrants, Immigrants are now used as slave but it is just another word for it "praktikant" most of these immigrants are being used for 10 years in the same field as praktikant, I know some immigrants who been living here for the past 11 years without documents, but they never did crime or harm anybody but the Government harmed them mentally and their kids for staying without school in Sweden.

Dont ever think that Sweden is easy place to live or if government needs SD to control the immigrants, immigrants are being controlled very well now and there is no need to kill them by fascist.
21:45 November 15, 2012 by Spuds MacKenzie
@Enrichment and Diversity - Exactly! There are reports every month (even here in The Local) about Swedish girls having "whore!" screamed at them by muslim refugees, yet no one is in an uproar over that!

If it's okay for people from "the religion of peace" to treat Swedes that way it's only fair that we can give it right back to them with our words!
00:11 November 16, 2012 by riose
@Spuds MacKenzie @Enrichment and Diversity

I would pay to see any of your SD calling Reinfield blattelover for meeting Obama.
10:20 November 16, 2012 by Iraniboy
@Enrichment and Diversity

The difference is that one of them is passing laws for Sweden the other in worst case is just passing by!!!
03:35 November 19, 2012 by ericrufinosiah
Tell me which Political Party in Sweden doesn't have problem.?

Jimme Akesson of Sweden Democrat is taking the right decision if there are wrong

doings committed by party members..He did take action immediately when it was

known unlike some who might want a cover-up to protect party interest and for

his act on party discipline I do hope that all Swedish natives should give him

undivided support at all time.
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