Progress Party rebuffs Sweden Democrats

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Norway’s most right-leaning party, the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp) is distancing itself from the anti-immigrant, nationalist party that’s sparking political chaos in neighbouring Sweden. “We have very little in common,” claims Frp leader Siv Jensen.

SD boss Jimmie Åkesson and 19 of his party faithful won seats in the Swedish parliament on Sunday, and now can tip the balance on several political issues. PHOTO: Sveriges Television SVT/Views and News

Political commentators in Sweden and Denmark have likened Sverigedemokraterna (Sweden Democrats, SD) to Frp, since both have criticized immigration and are viewed as populist parties that also campaign for more funding for police and elder care. SD won representation in the Swedish parliament for the first time on Sunday, leaving neither the Conservative- nor the Labour-led coalitions with a majority, and setting off widespread protests because SD has ties to right-wing extremists and is seen as being undemocratic.

Björn Söder, party secretary for SD, told website Nettavisen that SD is “very similar” to Norway’s Progress Party  regarding their immigration, crime and elder care politics, but differs on economic policy. “The Progress Party is much more liberal, while we are conservative,” Söder said.

Jensen, though, doesn’t want any association with SD, which also is snubbed by all of Sweden’s political parties on both the left and the right. She concedes that SD probably won representation in Parliament because it chose to highlight the immigration debate on its agenda, but otherwise she said it’s up to them to define any parallels.

“The Progress Party sees no reason to ally itself with that party, and we have very little in common with them,” Jensen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). SD, she said, “is a nationalistic party, while the Progress Party is liberal.”

She also thinks SD is founded not only on nationalism but on nazi ideology. “We have absolutely no need to identify with that,” Jensen said. “We identify ourselves much more with Moderaterna (the Swedish Conservative party) and the Danish Venstre.”

Jensen told NRK she’s not really familiar with SD, “and I have no need to get more familiar with them either.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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