Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sverigedemokraterna - more important than the suburbs?

Sweden is head­ing to­wards elec­tions, and a few minutes ago I watched the tow main con­tendands for the prime min­is­ter post, the socialist Mona Sahlin and the right wing Fredrik Reinfeldt de­bate our coun­try's fu­ture. It was a nice de­bate, where the journ­al­ist brought up a num­ber of in­ter­est­ing sub­jects. Half an hour in­to the pro­gram, she raised the top­ic of the situ­ation in the poorest Swedish sub­urbs.

While the situ­ation in Sweden is prob­ably bet­ter than in many oth­er coun­tries, we do have our share of in­teg­ra­tion prob­lems. The pop­u­la­tion in these areas are al­most ex­clus­ively non-Swedish, and the un­em­ploy­ment is stag­ger­ing - around 50 %. That said, you should not be­lieve what for­eign me­dia write about these areas - they do gen­er­ate some or­gan­ized crime, but are not a hot-bed for re­li­gious fan­at­ism and hatred.

Background Info

a Swedish right wing pop­u­list party very sim­il­ar to Le Pen's party in France
Mona Sahlin
Leader of the Swedish socialistic party Socialdemokraterna, currently in opposition
Fredrik Reinfeldt
Leader of the Swedish right wing party Moderaterna, currently in government
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt

This is a so­cial is­sue that does de­serve some at­ten­tion. It is a prob­lem that has grown since the 70's, un­der both left- and right wing gov­ern­ments. A his­tory of small pro­gresses are im­press­ively non-ef­fi­cient in chan­ging fun­da­ment­al struc­tures.

What are our lead­ers plan­ning to do dur­ing the com­ing four years to ameli­or­ate this situ­ation? I still don't know. After con­fess­ing that the prob­lem ex­ist, both politi­cians, aided by the journ­al­ist, turned to the ques­tion that really cap­tured their ima­gin­a­tion - what hap­pens if Sverige­demokraterna, a Swedish right wing pop­u­list party very sim­il­ar to Le Pen's party in France, enters the par­lia­ment? Both parties prom­ised not to co­oper­ate with Sverige­demokraterna un­der any cir­cum­stance (we'll see about that), and our prime min­is­ter em­phas­ised that those who love Sweden vote for him, not for Sverige­demokraterna.

I share their dis­gust for a party with deep roots in neo-­nazism, a party that builds its polit­ics on pre­ju­dices and that is gen­er­ally ir­re­spons­ible. But I think that Sahlin's and Reinfeldt's at­ti­tude is both ar­rog­ant and be­ne­fi­cial to Sverige­demokraterna.

It is ar­rog­ant, be­cause it neg­lects the fact that Sweden has a real prob­lem with in­teg­ra­tion. People in Rosengård live un­der cir­cum­stances that no Swedishg cit­izen should live un­der, and politi­cians should be work­ing day and night to change that. Es­pe­cially Mona Sahlin - she has wathed a new and ugly of class di­vi­sion grow, and as a politi­cian of the left she has a mor­al ob­lig­a­tion to see this as very im­port­ant. More im­port­ant than win­ning the almighty middle class vote.

The people who vote for Sverige­demokraterna also have a num­ber of real prob­lems that should be ad­ressed. These are people that are wor­ried about their se­cur­ity, people who feel neg­lected and beth­rod­ded. Vot­ing for Sverige­demokraterna is a way of re­belling, and a search for re­cog­ni­tion. It is not a search for ef­fi­cient and re­spons­ible polit­ics.

The fact that Sverige­demokraterna might take seats in the par­lia­ment is of minorl in­terst com­pared to this. Sverige­demokraterna are bas­tards, but they are not a men­ace to so­ci­ety - they are rather an in­dic­a­tion on what is wrong. If we could find the cour­age to dis­cuss the real is­sues in our so­ci­ety, I am sure that Sverige­demokraterna would very quickly be­come very ir­rel­ev­ant. They ba­sic­ally ecx­ist in the va­cu­um that should be filled by a mod­ern left wing.

Un­for­tu­nately I can't help think­ing that today's de­bate is a nice ex­ample of how the Swedish de­beate can some­times be provini­cial. Parties like Sverige­demokraterna ex­ist in vir­tu­ally every European coun­try, but for the Swedish polit­ic­al class it has been a point of hon­our that our par­lia­ment has been free of them. What Reinfeldt and Sahlin seem to fear most of all is not a polit­ic­al real­ity, but the scan­dal, and a stained repu­ta­tion. The de­sire to be something bet­ter than the rest of the world is much stronger than the con­vic­tion that the same forces that are shap­ing Europe are shap­ing also us.

Moreover, I think few voters are moved by Reinfeldt's words, that those who love Sweden vote for him. Per­son­ally I felt sick, and as I wrote above, I don't think that the Sverige­demokraterna voters care very much about re­spons­ible politi­cians. Sverige­demokraterna them­selves do not need neither his, nor Sahlin's love. What they need is to be des­pised by the es­tab­lished politi­cians so that they can cre­ate an im­age where there is an elite that do whatever they can to keep the strugglling minor­ity out in the cold. Any­one who watched today's de­bate will have ex­actly that im­pres­sion, and as a mat­ter of fact I think it is true.

I can't blame Sahlin and Reinfeldt from try­ing to keep ra­cists out in the cold, and I am con­vinced by their anti-ra­cism. But I do blame them for giv­ing Sverige­demokraterna what they want, and for not tak­ing in­con­veni­ent is­sues about so­cial in­equal­it­ies ser­i­ously. The people in Rosen­gård de­serve that we dis­cuss their situ­ation. But maybe this is a sign of how ra­cially se­greg­ated Sweden ac­tu­ally is... for the Swedes, Sverige­demokraterna is much more in­ter­est­ing than life in Rosen­gård.

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