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Swedish nationalists cheer record poll support

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Sweden Democrat leader, Jimmie Åkesson. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT
11:49 CET+01:00
UPDATED: The anti-immigration Sweden Democrat party has polled 19.9 percent, the group's highest-ever projected share of the electoral vote in a survey by Statistics Sweden.

Twice a year, Sweden's number crunching agency Statistics Sweden asks more than 9,000 people about their voting preferences in the country's biggest political poll.

The nationalist Sweden Democrats’ support has risen by 5.5 percent since the last Statistics Sweden survey in May and seven percent more than in the last elections in 2014.

“I think we have the potential to become the largest party,” Sweden Democrats' party secretary Richard Jomshof told the Swedish news agency, TT, after the figures were announced.

“I am absolutely convinced that the party has benefited from the situation that has arisen in recent months, even if we do not acknowledge the situation,” he said, referring to the refugee crisis.

Jomshof said that he expected his party to receive a boost in Statistics Sweden's survey, but perhaps not such a large one.

“That there is growing support for our views, puts much pressure on the other parties,” he said.

The poll also suggests that more Swedes would vote for the country's centre-right opposition parties than the current centre-left Social Democrat-Green government, with 39 percent opting for the Moderate-led Alliance and 33.5 percent for the coalition.

“It is not entirely unexpected that Sweden Democrats are doing better in the light of the refugee crisis and terrorist threats stories that have dominated politics this autumn,” political scientist Tommy Möller told TT.

Möller also pointed out that the poll was conducted before the government’s announcement in November of extra measures to curb the number of refugees entering Sweden.

According to the statistics, the party that lost most voters to the Sweden Democrats was the Moderate party, the main opposition party in the Swedish parliament (Riksdag).

1.8 percent of Moderate voters moved to the Sweden Democrats.

From the main government party, the Social Democrats, the Sweden Democrats took 0.6 percent of voters.

The Sweden Democrats’ support is still split very unevenly on gender lines. 24.3 percent of men support the nationalist party, compared to just 15.4 percent of women.

The Social Democrats, led by the Swedish prime minister, Stefan Löfven, were down 2.4 percent in the poll to 27.6 percent, while the Moderates fell 2.1 percent to 23.5 percent.

The Social Democrats’ partners in government, the Green party were down by 0.7 percent to 5.9 percent.

“The numbers are in line with other measurements, but we're not satisfied,” said Carin Jämtin, the Social Democrats' party secretary.

“It is a dramatic time [with the refugee crisis], and this poll shows that we have gone down recently. But we must do it both what is right today and what makes Sweden strongly for the future.”

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The rising support for the Sweden Democrats has taken place off the back off record immigration to the Nordic nation.

In October the Swedish Migration Agency doubled its refugee forecast for 2015, with up to 190,000 new arrivals expected on Swedish soil over the whole of 2015.

However according to the agency, the number of refugees arriving dropped by 30 percent after the country reinstated border controls in southern parts of the country in mid-November.

Statistics Sweden conducts its polls by telephone in November and May each year, with its 9,000-strong sample size differing from other polls, which tend to ask around 1,000 people.

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