Calls for Sweden to leave the European Union grew on Monday as the leader of the country’s second largest party renewed his criticism of Brussels while calling on Stockholm to take steps so that it is prepared to leave the bloc.
The Swedish Democrats – an informal part of the government – have long opposed the country’s membership of the European Union.
But as polls suggest the majority of Swedes want to stay in the bloc, the party has said it will follow the will of the people and not push for ‘Swexit’.
However, SD Party leader Jimmie Akesson has now argued that Sweden should not allow further power to be transferred from national politicians and the country’s parliament to lawmakers in Brussels without a referendum.
In an article written by Akesson and Charlie Weimers, a Swedish MEP, the two argue that the Swedish government must take ‘measures and steps so that our country is prepared to leave the EU’.
Jimmie Akesson (pictured), leader of Sweden’s Democrats party, has argued that Sweden should not allow further power to be transferred from national politicians and the country’s parliament to lawmakers in Brussels without a referendum
The measures they are proposing include amending the constitution to allow readiness for a withdrawal. Akesson and Weimers argue that this would put them in a better negotiating position within the bloc.
“We Swedish Democrats now want to explore how our country can avoid more power transfers to the EU, maximize our influence and achieve better negotiating results,” the two say in their article, published by Svenska Dagbladet.
“This is currently a more pressing issue than the discussion about membership.”
According to them, a constitutional amendment would be the introduction of a so-called ‘referendum lock’, based on the British model.
This would mean that the Swedish people who have a vote on whether or not to approve any power would be transferred from Sweden to Brussels.
Such a measure was also introduced by Britain in 2011 by then Prime Minister David Cameron, who eventually called the ‘Brexit’ referendum in 2015. The vote took place in 2016 and eventually led to Britain leaving the EU.
In their article, Akesson and Weimers write: ‘Only the knowledge that every decision on the transfer of power must be submitted to the citizens could slow down the worst abuses from Brussels.’
The Swedish Democrats also argue that the country should also prepare to leave the union completely, mainly to give the country a better foothold in the negotiations, and not necessarily – they claim – to leave the EU.
“For the preparedness to be credible, it is necessary that we remove the writings in the constitution stating that Sweden is a member of the EU,” the two write.
In addition, we need to train a cadre of officials with the expertise to negotiate trade deals and other things we have delegated to the EU and explore how Brexit could have been better implemented. The more prepared we are to leave, the more we gain in future negotiations.”
The party also wants to conduct an investigation to mitigate any negative effects of the bloc’s Swedish membership.
Pictured: Swedish and EU flags flying in front of the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm. The Swedish Democrats – an informal part of the government – have long opposed the country’s EU membership. But with polls suggesting the majority of Swedes want to stay in the bloc, the party has said it will follow the will of the people and not push for ‘Swexit’
Akesson’s position has been criticized by some in Sweden’s ruling government.
According to a source within the Moderate Party (M) – which heads the country’s leading right-wing bloc – some Moderates believe Akesson’s actions weaken Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson’s position.
Sweden currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, making Kristersson one of the most important faces of the EU at this time.
The source told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that the SD leader’s actions are seen as an embarrassment to the coalition and have sparked internal discussions within the Moderate Party.
Some in the party point out that the only other European figure currently openly toying with leaving the European Union is Hungary’s autocratic leader Victor Orban, putting Akesson in unwanted company, the source said.
According to the newspaper, there are critical voices about the EU within the Moderate Party, but the discussion about Swexit is not on the table.
The source said: “If the SD continues to complicate the government’s EU work, it will affect Tidö cooperation (between the four parties that make up the ruling coalition), there will be more friction.”
Akesson’s comments are seen by some as an attempt to capture voices critical of the EU and thus boost support for his right-wing party, the source noted.
‘I think SD is too far behind, they’ve gone a step too far. To say that Sweden should prepare for a “Swexit” is very far-fetched,” the source told the newspaper. “I think there are very few who think it’s time to start this discussion.”
They added: ‘Jimmie Akesson’s play was a hint that the previous position (wanting to leave the EU) has not been completely abandoned. If this continues, it could become a problem for the collaboration.’
Pictured: Charlie Weimers, a Swedish MEP, who along with Akesson called for Stockholm to make it harder to give Brussels more power
Earlier this month, Akesson said the growing power of the EU meant that “in practice, German, Polish or French politicians decide which car you can buy, how expensive petrol should be and which tree you can fell on your own property.”
The leader of the Swedish Democrats said the country should seek more exemptions from EU laws as part of a reset in relations with the 27-member group.
Akesson, whose anti-immigration party has major influence on Sweden’s right-of-central government, then stopped calling directly for “Swexit” – a vote on whether or not to leave the European Union, as the British electorate did in 2016.
But he said the EU was going in the wrong direction.
“Today there are good reasons to seriously review our union membership,” Akesson wrote in Aftonbladet at the time.
“Our general elections in Sweden will soon have no meaning for Sweden’s development. Of course we can’t let that happen.’
Akesson warned that the EU could impose a more liberal immigration policy on Sweden, which has taken an increasingly tough stance on asylum applications in recent years.
According to a survey by the University of Gothenburg in March, the Swedes are among the most positive countries in Europe regarding EU membership, with 68 percent support.
The country applied last year to join NATO’s military alliance, which includes most EU members, including Finland, which officially joined on April 4.
Sweden’s own bid has so far been blocked by objections from Turkey and Hungary.
The Swedish Democrats’ EU-skepticism has long been seen as an obstacle to their acceptance into the political mainstream, and the party dropped that demand in 2018 to win over more voters.
According to a source within the Moderate Party (M) — which heads the country’s leading right-wing bloc — some Moderates believe Akesson’s stance on the European Union weakens Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson’s position (photo, May 3)
It received 20.5 percent of the vote in last year’s general election.
Her support was crucial in enabling the moderate, Christian Democratic and minority liberal coalition to seize power.
As part of the deal, Sweden’s Democrats have exerted significant influence over policy, pushing for tougher immigration rules and watered down climate change ambitions.
The party has threatened to bring down the coalition if it does not cut fuel taxes and challenge the EU on asylum quotas.