May 1st is a sacred day for the labour movement and according to tradition the Left and Social Democrat parties held parades in towns and cities across Sweden.
However this year the extreme-right Svenskarnas Parti (Party of the Swedes – SvP) have gathered in Eskilstuna south of Stockholm to voice their objections to the societal status quo.
Police spokesperson Frederick Wallén told news agency TT that the Eskilstuna event was characterized by disorderly behaviour involving counter-demonstrators.
“We can confirm that at least 50 or so counter-demonstrators threw stones, bottles and golf balls. As a result we expanded the cordoned off area and pushed them aside.”
Wallén said that the police were not aware of any reported injuries.
“We estimate that there are currently about 50 from the Svenskarnas Parti in attendance and the counter-demonstrators number about 150-200. But 50 or so were obviously just here to fight.”
The party sought permission to demonstrate in several towns across Sweden but settled in the end for Eskilstuna. This is the first time that an extreme-right organization has demonstrated in the city on May Day.
“As far as I know, we have not had any organizations linked to the white power movement demonstrating in Sörmland on May Day,” Wallén said.
The nationalist National Democrats are furthermore planning meetings in Nykvarn, Alingsås, Heby and Södertälje.
While the day is typically dominated by followers of the Left and Social Democrats, and a plethora of other trade union-linked groups, it is not unheard of for right-wing extremists to join the labour day party, according to writer Anna-Lena Lodenius, who has spent several years studying Swedish extreme right.
“This has happened before. It’s an attempt to try to prove themselves as a legitimate working class movement, they want to be seen as a people’s party.”