Addressing a crowd of 1,500 at the annual Almedalen political fest on the island of Gotland, Hägglund said that despite attempts to “cover up their brown colour” the Sweden Democrats retained “clear xenophobic tendencies.”
“It was not so many years ago that members of that particular party turned up in Nazi uniforms and performed the Hitler salute at party meetings,” said Hägglund.
The Minister for Social Affairs wondered aloud what the national football team would be without Zlatan Ibrahimovic or how the industrial, healthcare and service sectors would survive without people with roots in other countries to staff them.
“There needs to be a view of all new Swedes as people possessing capacities and abilities,” he said.
The Christian Democrat leader said he did not believe the country’s immigration policy was perfect but this did not excuse the Sweden Democrats’ continued insistence on looking the wrong way and focussing on anything negative they could attribute to immigrants.
“Soon they’ll probably say that the slippery leaves on the tracks at autumn and the really difficult questions on Jeopardy are also the immigrants’ fault.”
Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson said he welcomed the fact that the Christian Democrats were prepared for a debate with his own party. But he was angered by Hägglund’s mention of Nazi uniforms.
“It was a very aggressive speech and a very aggressive diatribe, which actually began at the Christian Democrats’ national conference a few weeks ago,” said Åkesson.
A more productive debate would focus on values, he added.
“He accused us of having a strange outlook on people and of not standing up for people’s equal rights. But I believe we share a similar view on many value issues, not least when it comes to family issues,” said Åkesson.