Sweden authorizes Turkish referendum campaigning

OLIVIER HOSLET

Swedish minister for Culture and Democracy Alice Bah Kuhnke (L) chats with French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay (R) during the European Culture and Education ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium, 22 November 2016.

Sweden authorizes Turkish referendum campaigning


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Sweden’s Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, has authorized the Turkish government to campaign in Sweden, Dagens Nyheter reported on Monday.

In doing so, the Prime Minister consolidated the position of the cabinet. Already on Sunday, the Swedish Minister of Democracy and Culture, Alice Bah Kuhnke, made clear that the international secretary of the AKP should be allowed to address rallies in Sweden.

Prime Minister Löfven has refused to compare his own policy to that pursued in the Netherlands or in Germany.

The international secretary of the Turkish ruling party, Mehmet Medhi Eker, has already visited Sweden, without a Swedish government invitation. Eker apparently addressed a small crowd of 300 AKP and far-right MHP supporters in a Stockholm suburb with a sizable population of Turkish origin, Sverige Radio reports.

The Swedish opposition has criticized the government, suggesting that Turkey is sliding towards authoritarianism under President Erdoğan. However, Alice Bah Kuhnke has made clear that while Sweden tolerates similar rallies but that doen’t mean Stockholm will abstain from criticizing Turkey’s human rights record.

Like in the Netherlands, Sweden has its own share of a surge in far-right politics, which could mean that similar campaigning could have a polarization effect. The far-right Sweden Democrats (SD) have been gaining ground, going from 5,7% of the vote in 2010 to 12,9% in 2014. Opinion polls suggest they have continued to surge, that is, north of 20%. But, although campaigning has begun, elections are not due before 2018.

The far-right Sweden Democrats (SD) have been gaining ground, going from 5,7% of the vote in 2010 to 12,9% in 2014. Opinion polls suggest they have continued to surge, that is, north of 20%. But, although campaigning has begun, elections are not due before 2018. However, immigration, integration, and “order” have already become a key campaign themes.

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