Support for anti-immigration Sweden Democrats tumbles: poll

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Support for the far-right, anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party has fallen to its lowest level since surging during the migration crisis of 2015, a government poll showed on Tuesday.

The Sweden Democrats’ approval rating shot to nearly 20 percent in November 2015 after hundreds of thousands of people arrived in Sweden to seek asylum.

But a stricter immigration policy has led to a big reduction in numbers, and the issue has slipped from the top of the political agenda.

Support for the Sweden Democrats stood at 14.8 percent in November, compared to 18.4 percent in June, Sweden’s Statistics Office found in its twice yearly poll for which it interviewed 9,000 people between Oct. 27 and Nov. 28.

The government, comprised of the Social Democrats and Greens, had a 36.4 percent approval rating, compared with 35.6 percent in the June poll.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has wooed voters with a pledge to boost spending by almost 44 billion crowns ($5.23 billion) in the budget for 2018 with much of the money going on welfare, education and the police.

“Immigration is no longer dominating the political debate in Sweden,” Jonas Hinnfors, political scientist at Gothenburg University said.

Together with the Left Party, which supports the coalition in parliament, the government has 43.4 percent support, up from 41.9 percent in June.

At its current level of support, the Sweden Democrats would still have enough clout to block either the centre-left or centre-right blocs from forming a government after the next election in September 2018, should they fail to reach a majority.

The Sweden Democrats, shunned by all the major parties due to their far-right roots, have said they would help vote down either a centre-left or centre-right coalition in 2018, making it unclear how either bloc will be able to form a government.

Reporting by Johan Sennero; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky