Jimmie Åkesson, the leader of nationalist party Sverigedemokraterna, has announced that he will take a time-out from politics.
After years of consistently facing a barrage of slander, death threats and extremist violence, the toll on the 35-year old has been high. Now, a month after the wildly successful election where SD more than doubled it’s mandate, he will now take a step back and focus on his family for at least a month.
In an open letter he writes on the causes (in translation:)
“[…] our opponents persistent attempts to cripple our progress, the medias oftentimes sickening campaign journalism, and the inordinate hatred of the extremists. In my situation you try to shake all of that off. The smears, the threats, the hatred. That strategy works on the surface, for a while, but in reality it leaves a mark.”
SD and Åkesson personally have been a target of a concerted media campaign in all major newspapers, TV and radio unheard of in any other democratic country.
For example, the last week before the 2014 election the state-owned radio SR hired renegade hackers to illegally access Åkessons personal bank accounts in an attempt to smear Åkesson’s character — because he likes to occasionally play online poker. This was then reported as a “moral hazard” implying compulsive gambling habits, while in reality Åkesson shows no sign of such addiction nor has any personal financial issues.
The state radio is by law required to remain politically unbiased. The other media has no such restraints and was thus able to engage in more far-reaching and creative ways to campaign against SD.
Despite this, SD increased from 5,7% in 2010 to 12,9% in 2014.