STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats are the country’s largest party with 25 percent support, an opinion poll from YouGov showed on Thursday.
In last year’s election, the Sweden Democrats more than doubled their support and won 13 percent of the vote, becoming the third largest party, on an agenda to cut the number of asylum seekers coming to Sweden by 90 percent.
Anti-immigrant sentiment has been on the rise in Sweden, a country which has seen the number of asylum seekers increase to record levels and accepted the highest number of asylum immigrants per capita in the European Union last year.
Racially motivated hate crimes have also been rising and there have been several attacks on asylum centres after an Eritrean man whose asylum application had recently been rejected killed two in a knife attack at an IKEA store on Aug. 10.
Mainstream Swedish parties have refused to cooperate with the Sweden Democrats, who have not been able to influence government policy.
Thursday’s poll published in the newspaper Metro gave the Social Democrats, who formed a minority centre-left government after last year’s election, 23 percent and the largest centre-right opposition party, the Moderates, 21 percent.
The 1,527 participants in the poll were chosen from an internet panel and responded between Aug. 14 and Aug. 17.
The method of using a selected panel differs from that of major polling organisations and has been criticised for not necessarily being representative of the electorate, as well as for the fact it leads to problems calculating the margin of error in the survey.
Organisations using a panel approach have been more accurate in forecasting the rise of the Sweden Democrats, however, which has been underestimated by the traditional polling companies.
YouGov placed sixth out of eight pollsters in forecasting the result of last year’s September election, according to political scientist Magnus Hagevi at Linnaeus University.
Reporting by Daniel Dickson; Editing by Dominic Evans