(Bloomberg) -- Backing for the nationalist Sweden Democrats surged in yet another poll, confirming that the party is now a contender to become the largest political force in the country.
Some 22.6% of Swedes would vote for the Sweden Democrats if an election was held today, according to the bi-annual poll by the country's statistics agency. That's up from 17.1% in the poll in May. Prime Minister Stefan Lofven's Social Democratic Party, which has dominated Swedish politics during much of the 20th century, lost support but was still ahead of the nationalists at 26.3%.
The result was the worst to date for the Social Democrats in a Statistics Sweden poll, while support for the Sweden Democrats reached an all time high, confirming the results of other recent polls. The party's rising popularity puts it one step closer to its goal of becoming Sweden's dominant political force for the next century, and may in the near-term also help party leader Jimmie Akesson's efforts to establish an alliance with other conservative parties.
In the past, the party's neo-Nazi roots and historical ties to extremist organizations and individuals have made most of the political establishment shun it, and as late as last week, the country's Nobel Foundation announced that it wouldn't invite Akesson to this year's celebrations. The foundation said the party's heritage as well as current actions show "a lack of respect for the basic principle of all people's equal rights and equal value."
The Social Democrats were able to form a government early this year after securing the support of two center-right parties that had promised voters to restrict the Sweden Democrats' influence to a minimum. The resulting fragile coalition is susceptible to attacks from both sides of the political spectrum and Prime Minister Lofven has seen voter confidence in him slump.
Only 26% of voters now say they have faith in him, down from 49% at the end of 2017, according to Kantar Sifo polls. He's now only ranked fifth among the Swedish party leaders, and has been overtaken by all opposition leaders.
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