Sweden’s main opposition party has complained to international election observers of dirty tricks by the ruling Social Democrat party. Several local candidates of the centre-left Social Democrats resigned or were suspended by the party after spreading lies about the centre-right Moderates and nationalist Sweden Democrats ahead of elections on September 9. Social media post by candidates in at least five Swedish cities included the false assertions that the two rightwing parties were accusing Muslim parents of crimes in order to take their children away, and that they wanted to remove citizenship from anybody who arrived in the country after 1970. “We have been preparing . . . [for] foreign powers trying to influence the Swedish election process. We would never have dreamt that the threat would have come from within the country and our main opponents,” Anders Edholm, deputy secretary-general of the Moderates, told the Financial Times.
Swedish authorities have warned the public in recent days of a big rise in the number of automated Twitter accounts trying to influence the election, in particular by pushing for the populist anti-immigration Sweden Democrats. Stefan Lofven, the Social Democrat prime minister, had earlier warned of “completely unacceptable” attempts by Russia to interfere.
The Moderates, who have slipped dramatically in the polls and are now behind not just the Social Democrats but also the Sweden Democrats, underscored that they were not accusing the centre-left party’s central organisation but merely local candidates.
Anders Ygeman, head of the Social Democrats in parliament, told the Financial Times that the actions of what it described as “low-level candidates” as completely unacceptable. But he also said the Moderates had blown the matter out of proportion.