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Sweden Democrat lived off benefits

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07:36 CET+01:00
Sweden Democrat MP Johnny Skalin, whose party describes unemployed immigrants as being "a burden on society", has lived on state benefits most of his adult life.

Swedish authorities said in 1997 that Johnny Skalin, who is now 34, was suffering from a mental disorder that prevented him from carrying out his duties in a hotdog stand where he was employed at the time.

It was then that he began receiving disability benefits, local newspaper Sundsvalls Tidning wrote.

Ten years later, he told the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) that he suffered from extreme tiredness and needed up to two days of rest after working a four-hour shift.

However, that same year he became the head of the Sweden Democrat local chapter in the northeastern town of Sundsvall. "It was naturally a lot of work," Skalin told the same newspaper.

Skalin also began to study sociology, and went on to co-author a party platform that helped the Sweden Democrats get into parliament in the 2010 election, when it got 5.7 percent of the vote and won 20 seats in the Swedish Riksdag.

Two months into the job as an MP, he told authorities that he no longer needed any benefits for his mental disability.

"If I used the system in any way, it's because I had a reason to do so. I shouldn't have to defend it," Skalin told Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet.

Party spokesperson Martin Kinnunen leapt to his defence, and accused media of "quite strange" behaviour for reporting on a private health matter.

The party's website states that the 10 percent employment gap between Swedish immigrants and ethnic Swedes is "a great cost and a burden on society."

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A recent poll by Statistics Sweden put the party's support at around 8 percent. The boost comes amid a spate of layoffs in Swedish industry, as the country feels the effects of the European debt crisis.

AFP/The Local/at

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