05:20 GMT +317 July 2018
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    Swedish Radio Gets in a Pickle for Rigging Protests, Opinion Bias

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    Sweden's social media is abuzz with accusations of political bias after a Swedish Radio van was caught sporting a protest sign targeting Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson. The state-owned media giant confirmed that the image is genuine, yet offered several explanations.

    The nationalist-leaning Sweden Democrats (SD), which the latest opinion polls claim to be Sweden's second-largest party, have never been blessed with positive media publicity in their home country due to opinions that clash with the Swedish political establishment over matters such as immigration. The recent scandal surrounding the media coverage of the party casts doubts regarding the media's impartiality.

    Jimmie Åkesson's speech at Järva Political Week, where major Swedish parties congregate with their voters, was interrupted by loud protests. Police had to intervene to maintain order and remove some of the protesters. Left-wing activists attempted to unravel the event with posters featuring captions like "Scat!" "F**k SD," and "Jimmie = Racist." Åkesson was forced to remind the disturbers of the importance of letting ideological opponents have a say in a democracy.

    "Dialogue is a very important part of democracy. It means that you can talk to each other without resorting to ugly words, screaming and shouting, and show respect for each other's opinions," Jimmie Åkesson said, as quoted by the Swedish news outlet Nyheter Idag.

    ​After the speech, one of the protest signs was found in a company van belonging to Swedish Radio. A photo was taken and uploaded to Twitter, which triggered a storm in the Swedish public, who began to question the state-run broadcaster's impartiality. Swedish Radio confirmed that the image was authentic and provided several explanations regarding how the placard had ended up in the van.

    According to one of them, a "private person" put the sign in the van as a prank when he saw that the door to the van was open, which is often the case during live broadcasts. The editorial board claimed instead that the sign was put inside by a company employee after finding it outside of the vehicle. Nevertheless, Swedish Radio later tweeted that it was "very upset about what happened."

    Reporter My Rohwedder explained to the tabloid newspaper Aftonbladet that she had simply torn off the poster, which somebody had attached to the van, put it inside and continued working.

    "It was not done deliberately and it was not a matter of propaganda," My Rohwedder ensured Aftonbladet.

    Nevertheless, this embarrassing incident may aggravate the public's distrust of Swedish Radio, which according to its license should conduct its business "in an impartial and objective way."

    In late 2016, the Sweden Democrats, who oppose unbridled migration, were groundlessly labeled "Nazis" and called a "racist party" by none other than Social Democrat Prime Minister Stefan Löfven during a TV debate. However, Löfven was later forced to retract his accusations as unfounded.

    During Järva Political Week, Åkesson himself called himself a "nationalist," yet stressed that he was in favor of controlled immigration. According to Åkesson, Sweden has always had immigration and always will.

    Meanwhile, the latest polls indicate that the support for SD among foreign-born voters has risen five-fold, Swedish national broadcaster SVT reported. In 2010, 14 percent of SD's party crew were immigrants.


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    Sveriges Radio, Sweden Democrats party, Stefan Löfven, Jimmie Åkesson, Scandinavia, Sweden
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