Swedish party leaders traditionally hold summer speeches on their home turf during the holiday season and Saturday was the turn of the Sweden Democrats’ Jimmie Åkesson.
A crowd of a few hundred people had gathered in Åkesson’s home town of Sölvesborg in Sweden’s far south to hear the 35-year-old launch the party’s push towards the general election in September.
Following a sweeping review of the current global conflict zones, Åkesson shifted focus to Islam. “Islamism is the Nazism and Communism of our time,” he said, prompting the most generous applause of the afternoon.
Furthermore Åkesson said that he demanded that all aid to organizations and associations related to “Islamism” should be stopped, and directed his ire to the handful of Swedish citizens reported to be fighting in Iraq and Syria. “You guys can stay there. Sweden is no longer your home, this country built on Christian principles.”
Åkesson made an attempt to broaden the party’s support and stretch out to female voters, but made it clear that he most definitely is not a feminist – prompting a renewed bout of cheering from the crowd. “I’m not a feminist! I am a Sweden Democrat, social conservative and nationalist. But I believe in equality,” he said.
According to political scientist Anders Sundell, Jimmie Åkesson spent 21 minutes, 51 percent of his speech, describing the problems faced by the world and society and 3 minutes, seven percent laying out his visions. Åkesson did however reserve a little over 2 minutes for concrete proposals. These measures focused on burglary, which the party claims is a growing problem in Sweden and women’s safety.
In March Åkesson announced that the Sweden Democrats would talk less about immigration in the hope that the other parliamentary parties will consider working with them.
Despite recent opinion polls showing that the party can expect between 8 and 11 percent of the votes in the election, strong blocs on both the left and right of Swedish politics look like keeping any influence the party may have to a minimum.
The party which claimed its first seats in the European Parliament in May remains hopeful however and Åkesson urged voters to turn out in numbers. “A vote for us is never wasted, it sends a clear signal to the other parties that they want change, for example regarding immigration policy,” he said.
Cf. Tash Shifrin, “Sweden: elections set to show a shift to the left – but fascists near the 10% mark”, Dream Deferred, 16 July 2014