But according to Åkesson, the party is its own worst enemy.
“Our biggest problem is that we have not been able to build real credibility,” he said at a conference at the Riksdag on Saturday.
The party leader said it was uncertain whether SD could fix its credibility issues before the September 9th elections, but he said that the party would not benefit from moving further to the right on immigration issues because parties like the Social Democrats and Moderates have “snatched our politics” within the area.
“I do not think we'll win anything by getting tougher and harder,” he said.
A key voter poll in December showed that the Sweden Democrats have fallen behind the centre-right Moderates as Sweden’s second-largest political party. The Sweden Democrats dropped 3.6 percentage points in Statistics Sweden’s Party Preference Survey, landing on 14.2 percent. If the election were held today they would still have made a gain of 1.9 percent compared to the 2014 election, but the loss was the biggest recorded drop in voter support in months.
Åkesson said that SD’s goal must be to emerge as a legitimate government alternative and in the long run to be seen as a party that could govern the country.
“The next term of office will be crucial for us to establish ourselves as a government alternative,” he said. “We must compromise and be pragmatic.”
Åkesson claimed in his speech that the responsibility for “loosening the parliamentary knot” lies with Sweden’s other parties, who have thus far refused to cooperate with SD. The other parties will eventually come around to working with the Sweden Democrats, he said.
The country’s two largest parties, the Social Democrats and the Moderates, have painted the Swedish Democrats as a main opponent in the fall of the fall. With issues such as law and order, integration and immigration at the top of the agenda, the two major parties are trying to attract voters who may otherwise be attracted to SD.