Who is Jimmie Akesson, the architect of the extreme far right of Sweden?

Sweden Democrats party leader Jimmie Akesson gives a speech in Landskrona.

The leader of the extreme right, the democrats of Sweden, Jimmie Akesson, has managed to attract voters from the mainstream to cleanse the party of its neo-Nazi roots.

With his Sweden Democrats estimated to get around 20 percent of the vote in the September 9 elections, a record for the party, Akesson has become a key adversary of Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.

The anti-immigration populist has seen its political star grow after the arrival of more than 160,000 asylum seekers in 2015.

Despite his relative youth, the 39-year-old man will be presented in his fourth legislative elections in 12 years at the helm of SD, which has been growing in popularity to become one of the biggest parties in Sweden.

When Akesson was elected leader of the party in 2005, few observers anticipated that he would be able to transform the fortunes of the small party, sweeping the traces of the origins of SD in the fascist movement "Bevara Sverige Svenskt" ("Keep Sweden Swedish") and moving it away of violent racist groups active in the 1990s.

Formed in 1988, SD entered parliament for the first time in 2010, obtaining 5.7 percent of the vote.

"It started with very little … people did not know what they were (Sweden's Democrats)," said party supporter Christer Bostrom, who used to vote for the left wing, to AFP at one of Akesson's election rallies at the central city of Orebro.

By the time of the September 2014 elections, Sweden's Democrats had shot up to become the third largest party, gaining 13 percent of the vote.

But the endless campaign days had taken their toll on Akesson. He suffered exhaustion and left sick for six months.

& # 39; Always been a nationalist & # 39;

Born in 1979 in the southern city of Solvesborg, Akesson's mother was a caregiver and his father a businessman.

He studied political science, law and philosophy at the University of Lund, leaving before obtaining a degree.

His political activism began in his adolescence when he joined the youth wing of conservative Moderates. But he quickly became disillusioned with his economic liberalism and his support of the Swedish membership in the EU in 1995.

It is unclear if he joined SD in 1994 or 1995.

Crowds support Jimmie Akesson, leader of the far-right party Sverigedemokraterna.

AAP

Akesson says he joined after March 1995, when then party leader Anders Klarstrom, a former member of the neo-Nazi group Nordiska Rikspartiet, was expelled along with other officials with the neo-Nazi past.

But the old documents written by Akesson and discovered by the media suggest that he joined before that.

"I've always been a nationalist … When I was little, I refused to play table hockey if I could not have blue and yellow players," Akesson wrote in a 1999 publication of the Swedish Democrats youth wing.

Clean

A former web designer, Akesson has worked hard to change the Swedish perception of the far right.

"At first, it was a racist party, but (Akesson) managed to change that," said Bostrom, 50, wearing a T-shirt with the symbol of a blue and yellow party flower, the national colors of Sweden.

In October 2012, Akesson introduced "zero tolerance" and promised to purge the party of racism and extremism.

Others, however, argue that Akesson has simply changed the party's official rhetoric.

Several SD officials have appeared in recent years in the headlines of racist comments and hate speech.

And in the last week of the campaign, more than a dozen SD candidates were expelled from the party after the media revealed their background in the neo-Nazi movements, although they said they had informed the party of their past.

Akesson insists that "those who are not democrats can not be democrats from Sweden."

Nazism is "an anti-democratic, socialist, racist, imperialist, internationalist and violent ideology".

The politician has focused his campaign on the central issues of the party, namely its strong stance against immigration, the violence of gangs in the disadvantaged suburbs and the link between the two, which has worsened since the wave of asylum seekers in 2015.

Akesson has also been particularly outspoken against Islam and wrote in a 2009 editorial for the Aftonbladet newspaper that Muslims are "our biggest foreign threat since the Second World War."