Nastiness on the March

10 September 2018


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Sweden's Anti-Immigrant Party Makes Electoral Gains


Swedes went to the polls yesterday to elect a new Riksdag, and the result is troubling. The traditional ruling party, the Social Democrats, with their Green and the Left allies, won about 40.6% of the vote, and 144 seats. Right behind them is the Alliance, a coalition of the Moderates, the Centre, the Liberals and the Christian Democrats, with 40.3% of the vote and 143 seats. The anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats came in third with 17.6%, but that was up from 12.9% in the previous general election. Nastiness is on the rise.

There will be a vote of confidence in two weeks, and if Prime Minister Stefan Lofven doesn't make a deal with the Sweden Democrats, their party leader Jimmie Akesson says they will vote against the government along with the Alliance. That will force Mr. Lofven out of office, and negotiations on a new government will get very serious. Mr. Akesson says that makes him the kingmaker and it makes his party the real winners of the election. That's the bad news.

The good news is that the Social Democrats and their allies as well as the Alliance have said they won't govern with the Sweden Democrats. The options are for a minority government, or perhaps, one of the parties will switch from one bloc to the other.

Sweden took a large number of immigrants in during the 2015 migrant crisis, some 163,000. Per capita, that is the largest number in all of Europe. That should be reason to cheer, but the Swedish government has failed to integrate the newcomers, and that has led to a backlash against a more open society.

Rick Noack, writing in the Washington Post today, explained, "For half a century, Sweden's strongly regulated housing market has pushed newly arrived migrants into neighborhoods that have become increasingly segregated. While the country regularly tops global education and well-being rankings, government after government have failed to tackle the emergence of an isolated and deprived minority. Segregation has created an antagonistic mentality on both sides, with many white Swedes blaming migrants for their failure to integrate and migrants feeling deliberately left behind."

This is a problem that pre-dates the immigrant crisis by decades, but the recent arrivals have brought the problem into sharper focus. As Mr. Noack observed, "Amid a severe housing crisis in the 1970s, the Swedish government raised entirely new towns outside the bigger cities to house the working class. The idea? To create 'good democratic citizens.' At the time, Swedish officials didn't hide their intention of separating the working class from the rest of society, and for a few decades, the monotonous apartment blocs were relatively popular. That started changing in the 1990s after hundreds of thousands of workers lost their jobs in what is sometimes described as Sweden's '2008 financial crisis'."

The people who had lived there started leaving as employment fell by as much as 50%. Rent control meant the places they had abandoned were often the only places the newcomers could acquire. The result was segregation, which has led to inter-group misunderstanding and hostility.

"At the beginning, people blamed politicians for commissioning those districts. But gradually, inhabitants themselves were being blamed for destroying something that was very Swedish and for transforming it into something different," said Irene Molina of Uppsala University. "Of course, in the long run this contributed to climate of racism and stigmatization."

This is a problem that isn't going to go away in a few years; it may take decades. And that means the Sweden Democrats are going to be a problem for a long, long time.

© Copyright 2018 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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