Far right Sweden Democrats close in as second largest party-poll

Party leader Jimmie Akesson celebrates at the election night party of the Sweden Democrats in Stockholm, Sweden, September 14, 2014. REUTERS/Anders Wiklund/TT News Agency/File Photo

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The far right Sweden Democrats are vying for a place as the second largest party, a poll on Wednesday showed, running neck and neck with a center-right opposition that has failed to capitalize on growing worries about immigration.

Support for the Sweden Democrats rose to 21.5 percent in the poll by Inizio for daily Aftonbladet, up from 20 percent a month ago and compared with the 13 percent they got in the general election in 2014. It was the third month in a row of gains for the party, which wants to cut immigration to Sweden.

The Social Democrats, who lead a minority center-left coalition government with the Green Party, saw their support rise to 25.7 percent.

The center-right Moderate Party - the biggest in the opposition Alliance bloc - saw their support drop to 22 percent from 23.4 percent in the Internet-based poll of 2,051 people, conducted between Nov. 7 and Nov. 15.

Populist, right-wing parties have been winning ground across Europe and have gained further heart from Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election.

In Sweden, a record 163,000 asylum applications last year has deepened concerns about unemployment, rising crime and falling education standards, undermining a consensus around liberal immigration policies and boosting the far right.

In an interview with Swedish TV, Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Akesson said Trump’s victory showed voters were fed up with politics as usual.

“There is a movement in both Europe and the United States where the establishment is being challenged,” he told daily Dagens Nyheter. “It is clearly happening here (in Sweden) as well.”

Reporting by Simon Johnson; Editing by Alistair Scrutton