Far right seeks to infiltrate Tax Payers’ Association

The Annual General Meeting of the Tax Payers' Association (TPA) doesn't usually attract too many headlines or cause the pulse to quicken. This year could be different as political parties of various hues seek to get their members elected onto the board of the wealthy and influential pressure group.

Most notable are the efforts of Sverigedemokraterna (‘Swedish Democrats’), the country’s largest far right political party. Leading figures such as Kenneth Sandberg and chairman of Rix Telecom, Carl Lundström, have been mobilising party members to join the Association and attend the AGM on 23 April in Skåne.

The TPA has around 140,000 members and seeks to influence public opinion and decision makers on tax policy and public sector issues. It’s thought they have a capital of 100m kronor.

Sandberg explained to DN what the reasons behind Sverigedemokraterna’s campaign were:

“We want to get the Association to start a debate on the cost of immigration. To start with, the Association should demand that the government gives a transparent and detailed account of the costs of immigration.”

Lundström, who is a member of the TPA and has used his fortune inherited from the Wasa hard bread empire to fund several far right organisations, has attempted to build support for his cause within the Association. He has also used Sverigedemokraterna’s database to encourage its members to attend the AGM.

Over the past few months, Sverigedemokraterna have been trying to get as many members as possible to join the TPA in time to get voting rights at the AGM. The deadline is today.

Anti-immigration groups have put up four candidates for election to the Association’s 15-member board.

Sandberg denied that the strategy amounted to a ‘coup’:

“It’s a bit of a joke to call it a ‘coup’, it’s no different to what goes on in many associations. We’re trying to get as many of our members as possible to attend in order to get our views across.”

The Association’s chief executive, Robert Gidehag, has responded with an appeal of his own:

“We call on all our ‘normal’ members to come so that the AGM is representative. Then these other voices won’t be able to make themselves heard.”

Claes Levin, chairman of the TPA, views the situation seriously, but feels his hands are tied:

“These types of opinions are not representative of our association. But because we are a democratic organisation I can’t do much apart from appeal to our members to attend the AGM.”

Gidehag added:

“It’s a shame so much energy is being taken from the issues we really want to push, namely lower taxes.”

Levin believes it’s not only the TPA’s platform which the far right finds attractive, but also its wealth.

The Conservative and Liberal parties also appear to be mobilising their supporters to attend. An “unknown benefactor” for the Conservatives has forked out about 300,000 kronor for 182 return train tickets between Stockholm and Malmö.

Whatever happens, it seems certain that this year’s AGM will be attended by more than the usual 100 or so. The TPA has wisely booked a new venue.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Dagens Nyheter