On 19 September 2021, Alternative for Sweden (AFS) gained 1.26% of the votes and three seats in the national Church Assembly election. The Church Assembly is the highest decision-making body of the Church of Sweden. AFS also gained three seats in regional diocesan assemblies. The electoral gains are considered a major breakthrough for the party as it prepares to run in the 2022 general election.

Alternative for Sweden’s electoral success has caused a public outcry from establishment forces across the political spectrum. Even spokespeople for the nominally right-wing party Sweden Democrats (SD), which for the first time ever lost ground in a national election, have expressed disapproval. Mattias Karlsson, a leading MP for the Sweden Democrats, denounced AFS as “radical,” “far-right,” and “lunatics,” adding that his own party’s electoral performance was a “disappointment.”

Alternative for Sweden’s party leader since its founding in 2018 is Gustav Kasselstrand, who previously served as the leader of the Sweden Democrats’ youth wing. He points out that the party’s performance in the Church Assembly election far exceeded media expectations:

“This election result represents a major breakthrough for our party. Beyond that, it has also ensured that a vigorous national conservative opposition is represented in the decision-making bodies of the Church of Sweden for the first time since the separation of church and state took place in the year 2000.” 

The three representatives for AFS were elected by constituencies in the dioceses of Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Lund, situated in the southernmost province of Scania. Two of those elected are ordained priests, now retired after decades of service in the Church of Sweden.

Alternative for Sweden ran on a conservative and nationalist platform:

“After decades of radical left-wing infiltration, the Church of Sweden no longer reflects its stated purpose as a national church meant to represent the people of Sweden and our religious and cultural heritage. Our goal is to reclaim the church from the Social Democratic Party and ensure the Church once again stays true to traditional Christian doctrines,” says Kasselstrand.

On 11 September 2022, the party will run for Swedish parliament and—in all likelihood—a number of city councils. Kasselstrand comments:

“Our main objective now is to enter parliament. Sweden is in desperate need of a party that is unapologetic in its advocacy of the national interest. We will champion the repatriation of ill-adjusted immigrants, a Swedish withdrawal from the European Union, and nationalism as opposed to globalism.”

Alternative for Sweden election results

2018 (General Election) 0.31%
​​2019 (European Parliament) 0.46%
2021 (Church Assembly) 1.26%
2022 (General Election) ?

Gustav Kasselstrand is the party leader of Alternative for Sweden.

Uppsala cathedral. The city of Uppsala, north of Stockholm, is the seat of the Church Assembly as well as the Archbishop.

Ivan Knezy, born in Hungary, is one of three AFS candidates elected to the Church Assembly. He served as a priest in the Church of Sweden for decades before he resigned earlier in 2021 in an act of protest against what he describes as the capture of the church by the radical left. Knezy has stated that the church leadership promotes “the downfall of Christian Europe” and that Sweden has turned into “the Caliphate of the Nordics.”

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