Macron hits back at Sweden Democrats leader over remarks

Bloomberg

Tue, Sep 04, 2018 - Page 7

French President Emmanuel Macron has weighed in on Sweden’s looming election, condemning Sweden Democrats party leader Jimmie Akesson, who threatens an upset in next weekend’s vote.

“This person is not compliant with your story and your values,” Macron told public broadcaster Sveriges Television in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

The 40-year-old French president’s remarks came after Akesson declined to differentiate between Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin in a radio interview.

The Swedish general election on Sunday could rewrite the political rule book with the rise of the Sweden Democrats, a nationalist party with roots in the country’s white supremacy movement.

Despite having been ostracized by the mainstream parties, the group’s message of halting immigration has resonated with voters after a record inflow of foreigners over the past few years.

“I think it’s for your voters and your people to react to that. I think it says a lot,” Macron said of Akesson’s stance on Putin.

The Swedish politician “doesn’t know the right ranking of values and interests,” Macron said.

Macron has fanned controversy by commenting on domestic politics before, most recently in Italy, where he clashed with Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini over the latter’s anti-immigration stance.

Macron is now focusing much of his attentions on next year’s European Parliament elections, saying last week that Salvini and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban were right to see him as the main opponent in their bid to trigger a nationalist wave of support.

In his interview, Macron said that Putin’s vision is to dismantle Europe and that Russian does not share the same human rights values as the rest of the Continent.

“I do respect Vladimir Putin and I am one of the leaders who says we need to construct a new security and defense architecture with Russia. We need this discussion with Russia,” Macron said. “But Putin’s dream is the dismantling of the European Union.”