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

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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