Researcher who wrote Sweden Democrats’ white book was party member

Tony Gustafsson, the historian hired to research and write the Sweden Democrats’ ‘white book’, an investigation into its roots in the neo-Nazi and white power movements, joined the party in 2017, the Expressen newspaper has revealed.

Researcher who wrote Sweden Democrats' white book was party member
Martin Kinnunen, at a party conference back in 2015. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

When the document was published last month, the Sweden Democrats described Gustafsson, a researcher based in Uppsala, as ‘independent’, stressing that he had been able to carry out his research without interference from the party. 

But the Expressen newspaper revealed on Monday that Gustafsson had in fact joined the party he was supposed to be investigating back in 2017. 

Confronted with this, Gustafsson told the newspaper that he “would not comment on my political position or background at all in relation to this project”.

“I have chosen not to let my ideological commitments, political standpoints, or current membership, be a part of the discussion,” he said. 

In a press release, which has since been taken down from the party’s website, the party said that the report gave “no support for the idea that the party was part of the fascist movement.”

“The report suggests rather that the party and the associations which predated its establishment were in conflict with those extreme movements that then existed and that didn’t at all want to see a new movement to develop on democratic grounds,” it read. 

Martin Kinnunen, the Sweden Democrat MP who was responsible for the project, in July said that the project had been “the most transparent ever launched in Swedish politics”. 

On Monday, he said he had been unaware of Gustafsson’s past party membership. “We don’t go and dig around in our register, and don’t keep information on who has formerly been a member of the party, but instead have to delete it because of [the EU’s] GDPR rules.” 

He reiterated that Gustafsson was politically independent. 

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Sweden’s Social Democrats float idea of voting in a Moderate Speaker

Sweden's Social Democrats have said they would back a Moderate party candidate as the Speaker of the Riksdag parliament, in a move that seems calculated to complicate the right bloc's government negotiations.

Sweden's Social Democrats float idea of voting in a Moderate Speaker

“We would very much like for a broad agreement to be reached around the Speaker,” Sweden’s outgoing Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper. “This is the second-highest ranking post in the kingdom and the highest elected position.” 

The Aftonbladet newspaper reported on Wednesday that the post of Speaker was a key part of the negotiations between the Moderate, Sweden Democrat, Christian Democrat and Liberal parties, with the Sweden Democrats presumably seeking to appoint a senior party figure to the post. 

As the vote is a secret ballot, the newspaper reported, there is concern in the negotiations that enough MPs from the Liberal Party, or even other parties, will break ranks and not vote for the agreed choice. 

READ ALSO: Sweden’s right-wing bloc ‘agreed on stricter migration policy’

According to Dagens Nyheter, Andersson has already contacted Moderate Party leader to discuss the possibility of having a Moderate Party figure in the post. 

In the past, the Social Democrats have argued that the biggest party in the parliament should have the Speaker position, whereas the Moderates have historically argued that it should be the biggest party in the ruling bloc. 

Andersson said her party would be willing to “make an exception” to its principle. “We think there are arguments at this time, to have a Speaker who can be appointed with very broad support in the parliament. What’s important is that it’s someone who can bring people together, either a Social Democrat or a Moderate”. 

The outgoing Speaker, Andreas Norlén, is popular both within the parliament and outside it, given the steady way he has handled an unusually turbulent two terms.

“I can state that Andreas Norlén enjoys great respect, both in the parliament, and among the Swedish people,” she said. “He has handled his duties creditably and during a turbulent time, and a problematic parliamentary situation.” 

She said she was offering to discuss the issue with Kristersson to avoid the risk of a Sweden Democrat Speaker, something she said would be “problematic”. 

“This is a party whose whole rationale is to split rather than unite. This is also about the picture of Sweden overseas.”