Centre Party rocked by anti-immigration op-ed
Published: 11 Jan 2013 17:18 GMT+01:00
Updated: 11 Jan 2013 17:18 GMT+01:00
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Members of the party in the tiny town of Färgelanda in southwestern Sweden used an opinion article in the local Bohuslänningen newspaper to voice their frustration over a Centre Party proposal that Sweden allow free immigration.
“If these ideas are adopted as party policy, Sweden will be overrun by illiterate clans who don’t have jobs[...] and deal with inheritance disputes with Kalashnikovs,” they wrote.
The op-ed, which called the proposal "crazy", has caused such a stir that the regional head for the Centre Party youth wing said its authors should be excluded from the party, reports Sveriges Radio (SR).
Centre Party MP Frederick Federley joined the choir of angry voices.
“They've written very harmful things about immigrants, and the wording is unacceptable in the Centre Party,” Federley told the TT news agency.
”I was appalled. It’s worse than a lot of things I’ve heard Sweden Democrats utter.”
Federley also thinks the party should consider kicking out the op-ed writers.
The piece was signed by 15 Centre Party members who either belong to the local chapter (Färgelanda Center) or the party’s local women’s association (Centerkvinnor).
At least one of them holds elected office at municipal level as substitute representative on the local council.
They write that many local members have not paid their party membership fee this year, as they are waiting to see what happens with the proposed party platform.
Centre Party headquarters intends to contact the members in question, confirmed Anna-Karin Nyman, press secretary for leader Annie Lööf.
She told TT that Centre Party leaders partly want to understand why the op-ed was written in such a way, and partly to explain that the choice of words is not appropriate.
She said it was possible to exclude members.
“But it’s a long process,” Nyman told TT.
It also seems the op-ed writers had not checked in with all their party colleagues in the immediate vicinity.
Thor-Björn Jakobsson, vice chair of the municipal chapter, was unaware of the article and reacted with shock when contacted by regional Göteborgs-Posten (GP) for a comment and had to read him the op-ed.
”Heavens,” he told GP.
”I hadn’t noticed these tendencies before, we’ll have to deal with this in some way."
The developments come a day after Lööf faced criticism for statements regarding her stance on polygamy, which would be legalized in Sweden according to a draft proposal drawn up by the party ahead of its February 5th congress.
The radical set of ideas, which also calls for an end to compulsory schooling, have been the subject of heated debate within the party for weeks, in what some claim shows a rift between a neo-liberal "Stockholm Centre" and "the classic, core voters in rural areas".
"If the Centre Party is to continue to have a say in Swedish politics, the proposal must be amended. This will not do. It could harm us in the next election," Per-Ingvar Johnsson, a member of parliament from Åhus in Skåne, told regional broadsheet Sydsvenskan in December.