‘WELCOME to the repatriation train. You have a one-way ticket. Next stop, Kabul!” read a tweet from the Sweden Democrats’ (SD) law and order spokesperson Tobias Andersson weeks before last Sunday’s September 11 elections.

Now though the SD a party founded in 1988 by ultranationalist extremists and neo-Nazis find themselves political kingmakers. With Social Democrat Prime Minister Magdalena resigning on Thursday, it means Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson must now try to form a new government. He cannot do so without the support of the SD, who became the second biggest party with 20.5% of the votes

It’s perhaps not what many of us here in the UK who tend to view Sweden as a land of tolerance and openness might have expected. But then Sweden’s politics and culture are often misunderstood by those looking inwards at a country with preconceived ideas of what it represents. It took a short period of residency there some decades ago to understand that myself.

Not surprisingly the populist, anti-immigration party’s rise to real power has civil rights groups and many immigrants worried about what the future might hold for the country.

The SD’s rise has come on the back of what many voters saw as failed immigration and integration policies. About 20% of Sweden’s 10.5m inhabitants are foreign-born, with some 240,000 asylum seekers having arrived during the refugee crisis of 2014-2015.

Tapping into anger over crime and gang shootings mostly by blaming immigrants for the violence the SD has set out a 30-point programme aimed at achieving the lowest immigration in Europe.

This will include legislation that would make it possible to deny asylum to anyone saying they are fleeing persecution for being gay, or for changing their faith.

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Speaking to Reuters last week Civil Rights Defenders, an international human rights watchdog and advocacy group based in Stockholm, said it had gone through all parties’ proposals on law and order, democracy and immigration and found those from the Sweden Democrats troubling.

“In all these areas we see proposals that restrict human rights, that weaken rule of law and undermine democracy,” Civil Rights Defender Legal Director and Deputy Executive Director John Stauffer said.

How all this will play out remains to be seen. But if one thing is likely it’s that many looking in on Sweden from outside will almost certainly now see this Nordic nation in a very different political light.