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Sweden Democrats gather for conference

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12:43 CEST+02:00
The Sweden Democrats were gathering in Karlskrona on Friday ahead of the opening of their annual conference. They are due to be met by demonstrations from opponents and a major police presence.

Some 200 delegates have travelled to the southern Swedish port city to attend the far-right party's national meeting.

The conference comes at a time of relative success for the Sweden Democrats - they scored their best-ever election result in September. Their representatives have also debated on national television with Social Democrat leader Mona Sahlin and representatives of the Liberal Party.

"It feels as through the field has been left open to us, and it would be stupid not to take advantage of it," party leader Jimmie Åksesson said recently.

Åkesson, seen as a party moderniser, is expected to retain the leadership. Delegates will be asked to consider the Sweden Democrats' new party programme, which includes a focus on immigration policies.

The party's stance on immigration has much in common with that of the Danish Folkeparti, with stricter requirements for Swedish citizenship and tougher demands for people moving to Sweden on the basis of family ties. The need to protect Swedish traditions and values is also heavily emphasised in the programme.

Apart from immigration, care for the elderly will also be on the agenda. Even in this policy area, elements of their tough stance on immigrants can be heard, with demands that carers of older people should be able to talk 'comprehensible' Swedish.

The conference is due to be met by demonstrations from left-wing groups. Social Democrat youth wing SSU has called for marches on Saturday. Other left-wing groups have called for blockades of the meeting and have said they will use "all available resources" against the Sweden Democrats.

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