“My party and I are interested in Sweden leaving the EU,” Sällström says. “We want to gain Swedish independence and self-governance. We want power back with Swedish people.”
Sällström says when the Swedish government consented to join the EU in 1994, politicians never consulted with citizens or had their full support in joining. Since then, parliament has not asked the people how to develop and improve membership, he says, except for the currency referendum in 2003. When asked if they wanted to adopt the euro, 56 per cent of Swedes said no.
“I think this is a big democratic problem, because democracy means that it’s the people ruling the country,” Sällström says. “If you are afraid to ask people and don’t involve them in their political process, it’s not a democracy, is it?”
The Sweden Democrats are a nationalist party with roots in the anti-immigrant Keep Sweden Swedish movement.
Sällström says the party stands against new members joining the EU, specifically Turkey and Balkan countries. Swedish taxpayers’ money should be kept within the country’s own welfare system, not go to other EU members, he says.
“Taxpayers already pay too much for the EU and new members will cost the Swedish taxpayers a lot of money,” Sällström explains. “People now have to be asked again if they want EU membership and the development of the EU as a superpower, and the Swedish people don’t want that.”
Sällström is a self-proclaimed “late bloomer” in politics, having only joined the spectrum two-and-a-half years ago when he realized there was no representation of the Sweden Democrat party in his town, Östersund. He started a municipal organization for the party; prior to this, he worked as a manager for a local company, though he is currently on leave during campaign season.
If elected, the biggest challenge facing him will be standing up to opposition in parliament, as other parties gang up on his, he says.
“I think, for instance, in most issues the socialists and liberals and conservatives have the same point of view and there’s no real opposition,” Sällström says. “People with an opposite agenda or position are not treated decently in the Swedish parliament, and I think the same will happen at the EU parliament. But to make the issues interesting you need strong oppositions.”
Sällström says he is worried that over 60 per cent of the decisions made in the European Parliament are adopted or affect governance in Sweden. “That’s horrible because we have to bring back the power closer to the people here,” he says. “We need to stand against the EU elite.”