"Of course the work itself is wearing – all the travel, stress, constant homesickness – but mainly there have also been so many other things going on that have stolen energy and taken a toll physically and, not least, mentally." Åkesson also said he had been ground down by his “opponents’ constant attempts to block” the party’s successes, media’s “often despicable campaigning journalism” and “the inexhaustible hatred of extremists".
With all this in mind, he said he faced two choices:
"Either keep going as normal, with a major risk of really breaking down in the not too distant future; or I try to plumb my inner depths, clean up what’s inside, and find tools to move on."
Political scientist Jenny Madestan said she was not surprised by his decision.
"It must be very tough to be Jimmie Åkesson. This is a party that a lot of people think is an oddball in Swedish politics and no human being thinks it’s nice to be frozen out and get lots of criticism."
At the same time, Madestam described Åkesson as being "hugely important" for the party.
"He’s the one who all the time has kept up the balancing act of representing on the one hand folksiness and on the other professionalism."
He has also had the task of holding together a party with many renegade members.
"The fact the Sweden Democrats have been successful and maintained a relatively good level of trust is largely down to Åkesson condemning various racist comments.
"He has shown resolve with his leadership," she added, staking out a unique position for the party while trying to attract voters from more established parties.
Madestam also said the recent election campaign had been the toughest yet for the Sweden Democrats.
"They were scrutinized more since they had seats in parliament."