'Racist' advert for far-right Sweden Democrats on Stockholm Metro prompts huge protest

A large protest in central Stockholm against the Sweden Democrats' advertising campaign has been planned

Doug Bolton
Tuesday 04 August 2015 16:08 BST
One part of the advert, which shows pictures of rough sleepers with the words 'Sweden should do better than this'
One part of the advert, which shows pictures of rough sleepers with the words 'Sweden should do better than this'

Thousands are set to protest in a central Stockholm square after an advertising campaign for the far-right Sweden Democrats party went up at one of the city's metro stations.

One of the most prominent adverts, mounted above the escalators at the Östermalmstorg metro station in the plush Östermalm area of Stockholm, reads: "Sorry about the mess here in Sweden. We have a serious problem with forced begging! International gangs profit from people's desperation. Our goverment [sic] won't do what's needed."

"But we will! And we're growing at record speed. We are the opposition and we promise real change! We are the Sweden Democrats! Welcome back to a better Sweden in 2018!", referring to the year of the next Swedish General Election.

Written in English and accompanied by pictures of people sleeping on the streets, the adverts are targeted at tourists and visitors to the city, and have faced criticism for being 'racist' and demonising beggars and homeless people.

The advert, aimed at tourists, has prompted a large protest, due to take place in Stockholm on Tuesday night

13,000 Swedes have said on Facebook that they will take place in a protest in Norrmalmstorg Square in Stockholm on Tuesday night, in opposition to the campaign - which the organisers say "kicks at the some of the most vulnerable in our society." Even if only a quarter of these attendees actually arrive, the protest will still be a large one.

Speaking to The Local, radio host Amie Bramme Sey said she was "shocked that our subway company allows these types of racist opinions about a group of people in society."

Two people were arrested on Monday for trying to tear the adverts down, and transport company SL has called a crisis meeting to discuss how the problem should be dealt with.

The adverts have been torn down again since, but have been put up again as the party is still paying for them.

Sweden has experienced a surge in migration in recent years, and takes in more refugees per capita than any other EU country. It is estimated that 74,000 asylum seekers will arrive in the country, which has a population of just under 10 million, this year.

The Sweden Democrats party, which grew out of the Keep Sweden Swedish and Swedish Progress Parties in the late 1980s, languished with little support for many years.

However, since the 2010 election, when they broke the four per cent threshold to get seats in the Swedish parliament, they have made attempts to become even more mainstream.

They currently have 49 of the 349 seats in the Riksdag, and enjoy popularity in the far South of the country. However, a policy amongst Sweden's other parties to refuse to co-operate with them means they remain isolated, and find little opportunity to influence policy in parliament.

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