February 9, 2017 / 1:37 PM / 6 months ago

Sweden's Moderates support falls after reaching out to anti-immigration party

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden's Moderates lost support in two opinion polls on Thursday after the party last month called on the centre-right opposition to unite to bring down the minority coalition government with help from the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats.

The Moderates, the second biggest party in parliament, fell to 18.5 percent in a Demoskop poll published by daily Expressen and to 20 percent in a Sifo poll commissioned by Svenska Dagbladet.

Those figures compared to 24 percent and 22 percent in the previous polls by Demoskop and Sifo respectively, both from last month.

The biggest winner in the two polls was the Centre Party, another centre-right opposition party that has taken a clear stance against tightened asylum rules, with the Sweden Democrats also gaining in both polls.

The Centre Party polled at the highest levels in several decades with support at between 11 and 12 percent in the polls, up from 9 percent last month.

The Sweden Democrats had around 17 support versus 16 percent in January.

The two centre-left minority government parties polled below election results in the two polls, with the Social Democrats at 27 percent and the Green Party at 5 percent.

Both surveys were carried out after the Moderates on Jan. 19 called for cooperation with the Sweden Democrats.

Tougher immigration rules have slashed the number of asylum applications from a record 163,000 in 2015 with the Migration Agency expecting only around 35,000 people applying for asylum this year.

Reporting by Daniel Dickson; Editing by Alistair Scrutton

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