Support grows for right and Swedish nationalists

Support grows for right and Swedish nationalists
A Sweden Democrat rally in Stockholm last month: Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
More Swedes would vote for the country's centre-right opposition parties than the current Social Democrat-Green government, according to a new poll which also reveals growing support for the nation's nationalist Sweden Democrats.
Twice a year, Sweden's number crunching agency Statistics Sweden asks more than 9,000 people about their voting preferences in the country's biggest political poll.
The latest results suggest that the centre-right Alliance parties that formed ex-Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt's previous government currently have more support than the Social Democrat-Green coalition that was elected last year.
40.3 percent of respondents said they would vote for the Moderates, Centre Party, Christian Democrats or Liberal Party, up from just over 39 percent in both the the national vote in September and Statistics Sweden's last survey in November 2014.
A total of 36.7 percent of Swedes quizzed for the poll opted for the Social Democrats or Green Party.
The survey also suggests that support is growing for the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, with 14.5 percent saying they would choose the nationalist party, compared to 12.9 percent who voted for the group in the autumn.
“This is a statistically significant increase compared with both November and the Riksdag election in 2014,” Statistics Sweden said in a press release on Wednesday, adding that the party had made significant gains among people who previously said they did they did not know who they would vote for (1.7 percent) as well as former Moderate party supporters (1.1 percent) and Social Democrats (0.5 percent).

Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson at a rally in May. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT 
Li Bennich Björkman, a political scientist at Uppsala University told The Local on Wednesday that there were a number of potential explanations for the recent surge in nationalist support.
“Media attention – even if it is negative – still makes the party more visible. There has been a lot written and talked about the Sweden Democrats.”
She added: “The other thing is that it has become less stigmatized to say that you are sympathetic to the Sweden Democrats, due to their rise in the elections and afterwards.”
“Thirdly, their main questions about migration and integration have become really core issues in Swedish politics right now,” she added.
Sweden continues to take in more asylum seekers per capita than any other European Union member state. While the government has said it backs new EU quotas designed to distribute refugees more evenly across the 28 member bloc, it remains strongly in favour of maintaining the country's open borders. 
Several of the nation's centre-right Alliance parties have recently mooted a compromise idea of temporary residency permits for asylum seekers.
Statistics Sweden conducts its polls by telephone in November and May each year, with its 9,000-strong sample size differing from other polls, which tend to ask around 1,000 people.