Jimmy Åkesson arrives at a debate arranged by Expressen TV. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT
“The EU is not the way to cooperate in Europe,” he said in an interview with the P1 channel. “My position is that we should renegotiate the terms [of our membership] of the EU and then the people should have its say.”
The comments mark an unexpected return to the issue of European membership, after the Sweden Democrats’ economics spokesman Oscar Sjöstedt appeared to kick the issue to the sidelines last month, saying the party didn not intend to bring the issue up in post-election talks with other parties.
Åkesson’s comments come a day after two Sweden Democrat EU politicians posted an opinion piece on the Altinget.se political website titled, “Now we should take the next step on Swexit“.
“The Sweden Democrats want to leave the European Union,” wrote Kristina Winberg and Peter Lundgren. “We do not want to have some unelected EU Commission, which together with the court and the parliament can bulldoze over member states even if they say ‘no’ the whole way”.
The pair said that they favoured a renegotiation of Sweden’s membership followed by a referendum.
“We would rather see a significantly reformed European Union which focuses only on business and the free movement of goods, services and capital, but not people,” they wrote. But they said they would like the membership to be put to a referendum in any case.
“The Swedish people should finally take a position on the supranational union which the European Union has become in reality, and not that which the people were sold in 1994.”
In Åkesson’s interview, he also said that his party would be willing to support a government led by the Social Democrats as well as the centre-right Moderates.
“We have two to choose from as it looks right now,” he said. “Everything comes down to what we and our voters can get out of supporting one or the other.”
But he said he didn't expect it to join a ruling coalition, as Progress Party has done in Norway.
“I don't believe that I'm going to be sitting in the government after the election,” he said, but added that he believed the party would have “a significant influence”.
He also showed signs of softening his position on the actions required to halt climate change, saying that while he recognised that climate change was a real problem, he didn’t thought it was one best solved by investing in cleaning up energy production in poorer countries.