MEMBERS of the far-right Sweden Democrat party have been left red-faced after a controversial anti-immigration campaign hit the streets with basic English spelling errors.
The posters, which have been put up at a metro station in Stockholm, are written in English and apologise to tourists about the ‘mess’ caused by foreign beggars and immigrants.
On closer inspection though the ads contain several serious language errors, including ‘goverment’, incorrect use of punctuation and the phrase ‘welcome back to a better Sweden’, a direct translation of Swedish grammar which should read ‘please visit a better Sweden in 2018’, the date of the next general election.
The Sweden Democrats have campaigned strongly for Swedish language testing and high standards for foreigners coming to the country. The party has been growing at pace since first entering national politics five years ago on a strong anti-immigration message.
It is part of a wider trend across Scandinavia of far-right populist parties who oppose the European Union and advocate a return to ‘traditional’ values.
In neighbouring Finland the True Finns party recently entered government for the first time, with their leader Timo Soini becoming the Finnish Foreign Minister.
As well as incredulity over their poor language, the ads in Stockholm have also caused a backlash amongst people who think the publicly run metro system should not provide space to a party which many regard as openly racist. ¨
Although the Sweden Democrats have previously placed adverts on public transport, the tone of the new ads considered to be an escalation of their rhetoric.
Jesper Petterson, a spokesperson for municipal transport operator SL told reporters ‘We have a system to check whether content is suitable ... in this case it was deemed to be so. We made a similar decision last autumn too.’
Hannah Lidström, an activist with the Swedish Green Party and part of the protest movement against the adverts, authored a parody article in English in the Swedish media with the headline ‘Warning, there are racists in our Parliament’ in which she apologised for the Sweden Democrats.
“I almost felt ill when I went into the metro and saw them … I decided to write an article in English because it would be fun, but also because there was a serious point to be made,” she told The Scotsman.
As to whether the campaign would have any effect, she was optimistic that people would see round it.
“They have advertised like this before … but there are a great many of us protesting against this and showing what SD’s politics are really about” she added.
The ads blame the presence of Eastern European migrants in Sweden on ‘criminal gangs’.
The Sweden Democrats themselves have insisted that the adverts are not racist, instead insisting that they are part of the party’s pledge to tackle law and order issues.
The campaign was designed internally by the Sweden Democrats and is set to last for two weeks.