The far-right Sweden Democrats gathered in the western Swedish town of Karlstad on Friday for their annual party congress. They were met by a large police presence and groups of anti-racist demonstrators.
The meeting will address 31 motions and according to Svenska Dagbladet one of these motions concerns the privileges enjoyed by Sami reindeer herders in the remote northern areas of Sweden.
“Citizens that do not derive their livelihoods from reindeer are treated like second class citizens,” said Olle Larsson from Jämtland. The motion calls the distinct status held by Samis in Sweden “undemocratic” and calls for the re-distribution of funds and support to all “regardless of ethnic identity and line of business.”
“We are not against all Sami, only those that herd reindeer which constitute 10 percent of all Sami. This is important to emphasize. In inner Norrland all citizens are in principle subject to discrimination. It is consistent with our ideological profile that we should not have any rights based on ethnicity,” explained party chairperson Jimmie Åkesson to Svenska Dagbladet.
Jimmie Åkesson was re-elected as party chairperson on Friday afternoon and received a standing ovation as he took the stand to thank the party.
“I am proud and happy to represent party that is advancing strongly,” he said.
The Sweden Democrats annual party congress started on Friday afternoon and will continue until Sunday May 4th. It is being held at the Gustaf Fröding Hotel in Karlstad.
The Sweden Democrats is a far-right political party that polled 2.9 percent at the 2006 general election. In a recent opinion poll compiled by SvD/Sifo in March the party gained the support of 3.7 percent of those polled.