Anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats take opinion poll lead

FILE PHOTO: Members of the Swedish Parliament Riksdagen are seen after they voted Social Democrat leader Stefan Lofven back as prime minister, in Stockholm, Sweden January 18, 2019. TT News Agency/Jessica Gow/via REUTERS

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats have overtaken the Social Democrats to become Sweden’s most popular party for the first time, an opinion poll showed on Friday, nine years after winning its first seats in parliament.

The Sweden Democrats would get 24.2% of the votes if an election was held today, according to a poll by Demoskop and published in the Aftonbladet daily. The Social Democrats would get 22.2%, the lowest ever polled by Demoskop.

The Social Democrats, in government along with junior party The Greens, have been criticized in recent months for failing to deal with a gang-related crime wave.

In the 2018 election the Sweden Democrats won 17.5% of the vote, trailing the Social Democrats on 28.3% and the Moderates on 19.8%.

Reporting by Johan Ahlander; Editing by Giles Elgood