Posts Tagged ‘Sweden Democrats’

Sweden Democrat support at an all time high (and so is immigration level)

December 2, 2015

I have remarked on this before. It seems heretical and counter-intuitive.

Maybe immigration increases because of the anti-immigration parties

The surge of support for nationalist, “anti-immigration” parties in Europe coincides with very high immigration levels. At first sight it would seem obvious that the immigration level is the “cause” and the anti-immigration support is the “effect”.

But I begin to wonder.

The “nationalist, anti-immigration” parties have been around for a long time, with histories that go right back to the 1930s. The modern growth of these parties, however, really starts in the mid 1990s. Twenty five years ought to be enough for this support to begin to have some effect on their main objective. While these parties have won places in parliament and even in government, their support still runs along and in phase with immigration numbers. Increasing support for “anti-immigration” has not succeeded in reducing immigration. In fact, the anti-immigration parties have been so effective at building up support, but so ineffective at having any impact on immigration levels, that I begin to wonder which is the “cause” and which the “effect”.

In Sweden the Sweden Democrats are at an alltime high in the opinion polls (19.9%). But immigration numbers are also at an all time high. UKIP popular support has never been higher in the UK and immigration numbers have never been higher either.

Perhaps, by some paradoxical social mechanisms (which are not quite clear), high levels of immigration are a consequence of , and in phase with, the level of support for “anti-immigrant” parties. It could be argued that there is a threshold level to be reached before these parties can be effective. But parties in far weaker, “minority” positions have succeeded in pushing through their extreme views in many countries, and the Greens in Europe are an example.

My tentative conclusion is that either the threshold for the Sweden Democrats to be effective is much higher than 20% support (which is an indicator of not fitting the system), or that they are particularly ineffective (which is an indicator of political incompetence), or both.

SD support versus immigration to Sweden

SD support versus immigration to Sweden

Perhaps immigration numbers will only decrease if support for the anti-immigrant parties wanes?

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Sweden Democrats trying to terrorise asylum seekers – on behalf of the “people of Sweden”

November 10, 2015

The Sweden Democrats are trying to strike new terrors into refugees and asylum seekers currently on Lesbos, and thus prevent them from coming to Sweden. To this end they have been distributing a flyer in the name of “the people of Sweden”.

Sweden Democrat's flyer image Expressen

Sweden Democrat’s flyer – image Expressen

The whole thing has been written in, presumably Word and a font size of 14 for the body text and has then been right-justified. In their great wisdom the Sweden Democrats seem to think that this will be more readable for those used to reading from right to left. They seem not to have realised that reading a right-justified document, but from left to right is particularly stupid. I suppose it was beyond their limited capacity to translate their welcoming messages into Arabic (right-justified and then read right to left).

Sweden Democrat supporters have already set fire to some 60+ buildings ear-marked for housing the refugees. And now only the tents are left.

NO MONEY
NO JOBS
NO HOMES

You might have heard positive things about our country and the Swedish people. That we are friendly, generous and hardworking. This might be true, but our society is falling apart. 

Our wealth is gone. We have to borrow money to provide education and basic health care for our citizens. Due to decades of mass immigration our previously safe country is not safe anymore. Not only do we have a very high number of shootings and gang related violence, where grenade attacks in public spaces are no longer surprising, but Sweden now also demonstrates the second highest number of rape reports in the entire world.

Sweden is temporarily helping those who flee war and terror, but we can currently only offer tents and camp beds. And you will eventually be sent back home.

Sweden is a modern Western country. Here women and men are equal. Forced marriages and polygamy will never be accepted. Halal slaughter, wearing niqab or burqa in public places will be forbidden in our country.

Sweden Democrats               SD-Women      The People of Sweden

There are many things about Swedish policy I don’t like. It makes no sense to me that temporary residence is not granted first before permanent residency. It makes no sense either that the homage to “multi-culturalism” (rather than to mono-cultural, multi-ethnicity) has effectively forced immigrants not to integrate. It makes no sense that highly qualified and skilled newcomers are not made proper use of.

But the Sweden Democrats have neither the intelligence nor the authority to speak for me.

 

Maybe immigration increases because of the anti-immigration parties

October 28, 2015

It is normally thought the rise in support for the Sweden Democrats (a right-wing, one-issue, anti-immigration party) is a consequence of high immigration rates.

I am not so sure about cause and effect here.

You can just as well argue that the increase of SD support causes a reaction such that the very thing they oppose is enhanced.

What is certainly true is that immigration has increased sharply ever since the SD came into parliament in 2010 with 20 seats. In 2014 they won 49 seats and became the 3rd largest party in parliament. They have been pushing their single-issue for the last 26 years but have only achieved the opposite of what they set out to do. Even in the UK the rise of UKIP coincides with an increase of immigration.

So, paradoxically, it may be that immigration increases because of the backlash reaction to the anti-immigrant parties themselves.

Sweden Democrat support and immigration numbers

Sweden Democrat support and immigration numbers

Sweden Democrats try to make nationality a matter of race

December 18, 2014

There is no “Swedish” race – though the Sweden Democrats (SD) would like to think there is.

I take “race” here to be an ethnic grouping based on ancestry. “Swedish” is not a recognised or recognisable ethnic grouping which has any historical basis. There is a loose ethnic grouping of common ancestry across Scandinavia (Norway and Sweden – mainly- and Denmark and to some extent across Finland). These are not the “Vikings” of old, descended directly from the Norse Gods, as the SD would like to think. The inhabitants of Iceland are closer to the SD vision than the Scandinavians. Even this loose Scandinavian ethnic grouping (based on ancestry) has been subject to large amounts of genetic admixing from all over Northern Europe (German, Dutch, Flemish, French, the British Isles) and even much further afield. De Geer and Hamilton and Bernadotte are not Viking in origin.

But the Sweden Democrats are taking advantage of the confusion that is so easy to generate when speaking about “race”, ethnic origins, religion and nationality. But this confusion is evident even in the official record. For example Sweden officially recognises 5 national minorities – mainly defined by language and ethnicity:

Sweden’s national minorities and minority languages

The five recognized national minorities in Sweden are Jews, Roma, the Sami people (which is also an indigenous people), Swedish Finns, and the Torne Valley Descendents (Tornedalians). The historical minority languages are Yiddish, Romani chib, Sami, Finnish and Meänkieli. What is common for the minority groups is that they have populated Sweden over a long period of time and that they constitute groups with a distinct affinity. They also have their own religious, linguistic or cultural affinity and a desire to retain their identity.

These are minorities based on ethnicity (which is a matter of ancestry and is loosely referred to as “race”). The Jews here represent both a religion and a recognised minority. The Samis once practised Shamanism but that has been wiped out by the ideological forefathers of the SD. So if an Ethiopian Jew were also a Swedish citizen, he would have the religion but he would not be part of this recognised minority. But all these minority cultures – while afforded some protection – are still subordinate to the overriding culture of the country. Samis, while maintaining their own sub-culture, are still compliant with the overriding Norwegian or Finnish or Swedish cultures (and laws, rules and regulations) when they happen to be in those countries. One of the failings of all those misguided “do-gooders” who have promoted “multiculturism”, is that they have forgotten to emphasise that sub-cultures in a multi-ethnic society must still – of necessity – be subordinate to an overriding culture (which itself must evolve to incorporate the sub-cultures). There has sometimes been a tendency in most of Europe to support sub-cultures at the expense of the dominant culture, and that has provided many of the right-wing, racist parties the environment in which to prosper.

The SD are now propagating the notion that while these minorities may be Swedish citizens they are not part of their imaginary “Swedish race”. They like to confuse the picture further by referring to their concept of the “Swedish race” as also being the “Swedish nation” and as being something different to “Swedish citizenship”. They are effectively trying to connect “nationality” to ethnicity and to hijack “nationalism” as being the exclusive characteristic of the imaginary “Swedish race”. (Of course all members of SD are naturally assumed to be of this, imaginary, superior “Swedish race” and burning nationalists!).

The Somalis or Syrians or other “new Swedes” who are Swedish citizens may not yet be “recognised minorities” – and may never be. Fundamentally the SD is built on a differentiation by race (ancestry and ethnicity). The unsaid, underlying sub-text of all they say and argue is for a differentiation based on skin colour. They want to promote the concept of the citizens of Sweden being either

  1. those of the “Swedish race” (obviously acceptable though imaginary and unidentifiable)
  2. recognised minorities who are “old Swedes” (and reluctantly acceptable), or
  3. “new Swedes” (who are the bad guys)

Among the SD supporters, the level of “Swedishness” follows this classification. For them, “new Swedes” is a derogatory term which carries the sub-text of skin colour. If they could they would prefer to split the third group on the basis of skin colour with the level of “Swedishness” decreasing with the darkness of skin color. But even they balk at such a blatant differentiation as that. It is quite clear that the SD would prefer to have these 3 groups as 3 classes of citizenship. “New Swedes” (especially those of the wrong skin colour) clearly – in their eyes – are lower class citizens – if at all. I note that the House of Bernadotte only goes back to 1818. (By the SD’s standards, the Royal family should be classified as “new Swedes” and third class citizens). It serves the SD’s cause to separate and isolate the “new Swedes” from the mainstream as much as possible. They would like, for example, ethnicity to be registered for all crimes to further the divide. But the fundamental flaws in the race politics that the SD is trying to promote is that first, there is no such thing as an identifiable “Swedish race” and second, nationality is not a matter of ethnicity. They forget that nationality and citizenship are a matter of residence and behaviour and not of distant ancestry. Immediate parentage can give citizenship but requires residence. And if behaviour is the arbiter, the SD is on shaky ground since it has had more than its fair share of junkies and hooligans.

It should be obvious by now that I am a “new Swede”. But I am a little surprised that so many are taken in by the SD’s view that nationality is a matter of ethnicity. Perhaps they are all supermen who chose their own parents and their ancestry.

Sweden Democrat’s deputy speaker sufficiently emboldened to show his xenophobic colours

December 15, 2014

The Sweden Democrats have been emboldened by the current political turbulence – more akin to a low farce – to speak out much more openly about their core agenda. The Sweden Democrats are a far-right, anti-immigrant, anti-immigration, xenophobic party with its roots in the neo-Nazi world. They have quite successfully managed to keep this agenda hidden under a cloak of pseudo-nationalism and have managed to get into a “balance of power” position. They are the 3rd largest party in the Swedish parliament and have even managed to get a member into the position of Deputy Speaker.

Of course it is the current situation where an extra election has been called which means that even the Deputy Speaker in a sitting Parliament is now focused on electioneering. And the current turbulence is due in no small part to the incompetence of the Red/Green coalition coalition government in putting forward a budget which could not be passed. They put together an extreme, leftist budget which gave the Sweden Democrats the wonderful opportunity to defeat it in parliament. SD members all over the country are both energised and emboldened. Yesterday another party member argued that water-boarding was not, in fact, torture and was perfectly acceptable as an interrogation technique.

Of course the Sweden Democrats are being opportunistic, but it was the farcical situation generated by Stefan Löfven and his Green partners which gave them the opportunity. Moreover the “rehabilitated”, somewhat cleaner image of the Sweden Democrats is primarily due to their personable leader, Jimmy Åkesson. But he is off sick due to stress and many of the Sweden Democrat “cowboys” have had no restraining influence to keep them in order.

There is one area however where the Sweden Democrats have put their finger on the pulse of the problem not just in Sweden but all over Europe. A society can be multi-ethnic but it cannot be multi-cultural. The treatment of “multi-culturism” as a god has been a major blunder. A new culture has to and does evolve if allowed and encouraged to. There is little doubt that most European countries have put too little effort in getting their immigrants to adapt to their new surroundings and instead have encouraged them to develop their own separate enclaves. Preserving cultures from other times and other spaces has been prioritised over encouraging the new culture to evolve. A fear of being labelled racist has led to many types of immigrant behaviour, which are incompatible with the new society, being permitted and preserved. As in Rotherham.

Where the Sweden Democrats go completely wrong is in thinking that a predominant culture can be frozen into a past image and can avoid evolution as necessary immigration occurs. And Björn Söder even though he is Deputy Speaker, has already started electioneering. In his latest interview with Dagens Nyheter he brings his xenophobic views into the open and has managed to bring both his own position and Parliament as a whole into disrepute. Some extracts follow:

Reduced immigration is just one of several means for SD to reach its main objectives: to reshape Sweden in to a more nationalistic country. Sami people, Kurds and Jews can live in Sweden – but they are not Swedes, according to SD’s party secretary Björn Söder. He wants to pay immigrants to leave the country: “It would be great with a repatriation grant.” …..

Who is it that does not fit in to SD’s vision of Sweden?

– We stand for an inclusive society, so anyone who wants to fit. We have an open Swedishness which also includes people with roots abroad. But one must adapt to the Swedish and be assimilated to become Swedish.

Do you have to be a nationalist to be part of the Sweden you want to see?

– Absolutely not. I certainly have a lot in common with a liberal who grew up in Sweden – although we have different political views. But we have a unity, we celebrate the same festivals and also has some basic values in common, that the belief in democracy and the rights of women. Therefore, we have a sense of community.

The Swedes who have multiple identities, then? You say that we have people from “other nations” living in Sweden.

– Yes. There are, for example, people belonging to the Sami or the Jewish nation in Sweden.

Can one not be both a Jew and Swedish, at the same time?

– I think most of Jewish origin that have become Swedes leave their Jewish identity. But if they do not do it need not be a problem. One must distinguish between citizenship and nationhood. They can still be Swedish citizens and live in Sweden. Samer and Jews have lived in Sweden for a long time.

The comedian Soran Ismail used to say that he is 100 percent Swedish and 100 percent Kurds. Can not it be so?

– I do not think you can, to belong to two nations that way. However, Kurds could be Swedish citizens. The problem is if there will be too many in Sweden who belong to other nations.

This summer, you shared an article from the SD newspaper Samtiden on your Facebook page. “Swedes in the minority in Malmö,” read the headline. The article wrote that people of foreign origin – at least one parent born abroad – were more than 50 percent of the population in Malmö. You also wrote that in your FB post: “Swedes are now in the minority in Sweden’s third largest city.” Do you mean that everyone with a foreign-born mother or father is not Swedish?

– Wasn’t it that  Swedes were in the minority in the age group under 18?

No, I do not think so [I check later and the article is about all the people of Malmö].

– Anyway many living in Malmo are not Swedish, they are representatives of other nations. Not least, the Arab nation.

Which country is the “Arab nation”?

– No, there’s no country of that name. Arabs coming from several states. It is in any case desirable that a States’ geographical boundaries should coincide with the spread of its people.

It sounds like the argument Putin uses when he activates the Russian minorities in Ukraine, Estonia and Latvia.

– The problem there is that the Soviet Union placed great Russian nations in the Baltic States, it was a strategy of taking over. It is an imperial, chauvinistic nationalism that has nothing to to do with SD’s ideology 

If many residents of Malmö are not a part of the national community that you and your party want to build – what do you do with them?

– They must adapt and become a part of the Swedish nation. We have an open Swedishness, an individual can become Swedish regardless of background. But it requires that they be assimilated. And the problem with Malmö is that we have brought in too many. If very many from other nations live together in Sweden, it creates foreign enclaves in Sweden.

When I listen to you, it sounds as if all who come from an Arab country are alike. But the people of Malmö I know are very different among themselves, even those whose families originated from the same country.

– Sure, it might be so. You and I are also different from each other. But some fundamental value elements unite us. We both grew up in Sweden and it has shaped us. If you have a different cultural background there are other values that unite.

Malmo is multicultural and much of the city’s identity lies in that it is an immigrant city. Those who grow up in Malmö today speak a different dialect of Skånska than those who grew up here a few decades ago. More like Zlatan. They grow up in an environment where different cultures mixed together. Is that bad?

– I think many of them will lose their identities eventually. They will ask: what country do I belong to? It becomes an identity-less society. And obviously there is a problem in Malmo because the economy is so lousy. The rest of the country must prop up Malmo with fiscal equalization. If Malmö had been so good its problems would not have been so great and so obvious.

Söder is rather simplistic and superficial in his views. But he does have a point. The future of Europe is irrevocably multi-ethnic (and that is a comment only on ancestry). But the multi-ethnic Europe has to develop a new, vibrant, inclusive culture and that can neither be the old culture nor a multitude of separated cultures. You have as many societies as you have distinct cultures. It has to be one, new culture which assimilates the best part of the contributing cultures.

Low farce as Stefan Löfven gives up – will call a new election on 29th December

December 3, 2014

It has been another busy day in the Swedish parliament and for the political commentators. The 2-month old Red/Green government’s budget (supported by the communistic far Left) was defeated in Parliament. The alternative budget presented by the right-leaning Alliance of opposition parties, was also supported – going against past practice – by the far-right Sweden Democrats, and prevailed. We now have the very odd situation of a Red/Green government now having to administer the opposition’s budget which comes into force on 1st January 2015. It has been a spectacular failure by the Red/Green government after just 2 months in power.

Stefan Löfven, the Prime Minister, could have just resigned and let the speaker try to get a government cobbled together which could manage to get a budget passed. Strictly he could not call a new election since it has been less than 3 months since this parliament first met. Those 3 months are up on December 29th.

Many political commentators called this the most dramatic happening in Swedish politics since 1958! But I thought there was more of low farce than of high drama in the proceedings today. Everybody had announced how they were going to vote yesterday. There was 6 hours of meaningless debate in parliament before the vote.  Each speaker tried to avoid blame. CYA of the lowest order! Löfven called a press conference and lashed out like a very sore loser. He blamed everybody else and then announced that he would be calling a new election on December 29th to be then held on 22nd March next year. He comes from the trade union movement and has had a reputation as a good negotiator in industrial disputes. But his wage negotiation skills were not up to political negotiations. He has moved too far, too fast to the left in appeasing the Greens and the far Left party. So much so that he misjudged his strengths and weaknesses completely. He provided the Sweden Democrats an irresistible opportunity to become the centre of attraction in bringing him down. In fact he also managed with his lurch to the left to alienate the Alliance so much that it became impossible for them to rescue him (even if they had wanted to) from the quagmire of his own making.

So today he threw his hands up in the air and announced he was giving up and that he would call a new election – when he could – and ask the electorate to take the call on his budget. It strikes me that this is not just giving up. It is also a tacit acknowledgement of misjudgements and a lack of competence in managing the process of getting his budget passed.

Maybe he is hoping that before the new election is actually called 26 days from now, that the Alliance or just the Moderate Party (2nd largest party in parliament) will somehow find a way of saving his face by offering him some form of cooperation. Maybe his public announcement that he would campaign together with the Greens is just negotiating tactics. Arithmetically the only way for a majority to form is if the Social Democrats cooperate with the Alliance or just the Moderates. It is highly unlikely that the Moderate Party will just abandon its allies. The chances for the Alliance to form a Grand Coalition with the Social Democrats is extremely small and will extract a heavy price. The Social Democrats would have to dump the Greens and the far Left. That price may be too heavy for the Social Democrats

But I can speculate that if the Social Democrats have the long term in mind and are prepared to dump the Greens and the far-Left, Löfven could retain the post of Prime Minister in a Grand Coalition with the Alliance. They would command a very stable parliamentary majority which could manage to keep the Sweden Democrats completely marginalised. But some of the key portfolios – such as Finance, Defence and Foreign Affairs – would have to go to the Alliance. It may not be politically possible for this crop of politicians, but it could be the best possible thing for the country.

But unless some such cooperation is finalised within the next 26 days, the Swedish parliamentarians would have failed the electorate. And just going back to the electorate may produce the same result and solve nothing.

Sweden votes “against”, but what is Sweden “for”?

September 15, 2014

It was quite a high turnout at 83.4% in the general election.

The results show that Sweden has voted “against” many trends but has not really voted “for” anything. The left (red-red-green) will govern while the far-right show the greatest gains. Perhaps this is an indictment of all parties in that none succeeded in presenting any compelling vision of the future. 

After 8 years in power, the free market Alliance have lost power quite decisively, but the Social Democratic block (including the Environment and the Left Party) while clearly the largest grouping, are quite a bit short of an absolute majority. The Moderates lost 6.7% of the vote share. The clear gain is for the anti-Europe, anti-immigration, nationalistic, neo-Nazi party the Sweden Democrats who have more than doubled their vote from 5.7 to 12.9% – a gain of 7.2%. The Social Democrats actually gained virtually nothing (+0.4%). The losers are the small right-of-centre parties supporting the Moderate coalition in government (the Centre Party, Peoples Party and the Christian Democrats). The Environmental Party also lost a bit but will find itself in government anyway. The top 3 parties cover 67% of the vote. As much as 30% of the vote share is split between 6 parties with less than 7% share each. The Left Party (erstwhile communists) are now absolutely necessary to the Social Democrats and may well even be formally in government.

The Feminine Initiative were neither here nor there and ended up as being yet another “spoiler” party.

Sweden election 2014 - graphic from SvD

Sweden election 2014 – graphic from SvD

So a very fractured picture emerges but what strikes me is that voters have generally voted “against” trends they do not like far more than voting “for” anything. Maybe it is simplistic but my reading of the results is that Sweden has expressed strong opposition to:

  1. European meddling in Swedish society
  2. EU bureaucracy
  3. Further immigration (but not necessarily against immigrants)
  4. the Euro
  5. profit – rather than quality – as the basis of health care
  6. profit – rather than quality – as the basis of elderly care
  7. profit – rather than quality – as the basis of schools
  8. ideology in environment

But what Sweden is in favour of is not at all clear.

It will not be easy for the Social Democrats to build a stable government which has any clear direction. The votes “against”  do not allow any block to find a clear way forward – in any direction. Nobody wants to treat – visibly – with the Sweden Democrats. Their votes “for” anything are of little value in themselves and provide neither opportunity or risk to anybody else. They have not the power to get their proposals accepted but they will have the parliamentary votes to stop many things.

I am afraid that we have 4 years of horse-trading and vacillation and drift ahead.

Democracy threatened as Swedish politician is attacked by cake!

November 7, 2013

The list of assassinated Swedish politicians is not very long and contains just 4 names : Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson (1436), Axel von Fersen the Younger (1810), Olof Palme (1986) and Anna Lindh (2003). But each has come as something of a shock for the traditional openness of politics and the easy access to politicians. The Olof Palme murder (still unsolved) was a particularly traumatic event. 

Engelbrektsson was a rebel leader and was murdered by a member of the nobility who got off scot-free. Axel von Fersen (the reputed lover of Marie Antoinette and even thought to be the father of her first child) was stamped to death by an angry mob in the presence of many troops and (probably) with the acquiescence of the then government. Olof Palme was shot to death by an unknown assassin on a Stockholm street while walking home from the cinema. At the time of his death he was the serving Prime Minister walking the streets without any bodyguards! Anna Lindh was stabbed in a department store while shopping (also without bodyguards) and died of her wounds in hospital. Five days later a mentally disturbed man of Serbian descent was arrested. He apparently confessed 3 months later and was sentenced to life.

The leader of the far-right Swedish Democratic Party was attacked on Tuesday by cake at a book signing. He escaped shocked and “sullied” and his party earned some extra money by not wasting much time in selling the video of the cake-attack to a national newspaper. There is a little question mark as to how they came to be filming the incident just then and the speed with which they negotiated and sold the video. There is no report about what the cake tasted like and what recipe was used. Chocolate and cream?

Sweden Democrat leader ambushed in cake attack

Sweden Democrat party leader Jimmie Åkesson ended up with cake on his face after a woman attacked him with a baked good at a book signing in Stockholm on Tuesday evening.
The attack occurred around 5pm as Åkesson was signing copies of his new book, Satis Polito, under a tent set up in Nytorget on Södermalm in Stockholm.
Agents from security service Säpo quickly whisked a sullied and shocked Åkesson away from the scene.  “Åkesson ended up with a cake in his face. Then he was rushed into a Säpo car. He sat there for a while, and then they left,” a witness to the cake attack told TT. ….. 
The suspected cake-thrower was a 60-year-old  woman, one of an estimated 200 or so counter-demonstrators on hand for the book signing by the Sweden Democrat leader. She was quickly apprehended by police but was later released.

Politicians of all parties have condemned the cake-attack as being an attack on the very foundations of democracy. The Swedish Democrats are – not surprisingly – trying to portray Jimmy Åkesson as a victim. And so he is. But rather cake than knives and guns and angry mobs. And the Swedish Democrats – even if it is at its roots a neo-Nazi party  and has fantasies of a Swedish Kristallnacht – is not quite as horrible as the Muslim Brotherhood or Golden Dawn.

Shades of Axel von Fersen! For it was his lover, Marie Antoinette, who is reputed to have replied to a report that the peasants could not afford bread “Then let them eat cake”!

 

Getting confusing – Sweden’s Social Democrats are not the Sweden Democrats – or are they?

April 17, 2013

In Sweden the Sweden Democrats is a  (relatively) new anti-immigrant party with neo-nazi and skinhead roots which is growing in support and has managed to win seats in Parliament. Apart from being anti-immigrant and of blaming all problems in any area on immigration their Parliamentarians have mainly distinguished themselves by regularly getting involved in scandals (old-fashioned hooliganism and drug and alcohol abuse) and subsequently resigning.

Sweden’s Social Democrats on the other hand was founded in 1889, has its roots in the labour movement and was till 2003 the dominant party of Government through the 20th century. It is the party of Tage Erlander and Olof Palme and the largest party in the country and can be credited for most of the social advances made in Sweden. For a left-leaning party they have been remarkable in being very pragmatic and supportive of private manufacturing industry. It is currently in opposition but ought – in the normal course of affairs – to return to power in the 2014 elections.

Unless they can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Right now they seem to be keen on showing the world all their dirty washing and looking for ways to lose the next election.

It is still a party where party decisions are made in back rooms (no longer smoke-filled) by the few who exert the real political power. Within the party it is old fashioned power politics which matter and there is little trace of any real democracy. Lately the twists and turns over getting rid of Mona Sahlin as leader, appointing Håkan Juholt in a coup and then replacing him after a media campaign with Stefan Löfven, indicates that the internal antagonists have been well matched with the advantage shifting between the right/left and the left/left wings of the party. (All the factions are left of centre of course but the field is wide)!

But during the last week the party has shown itself as being particularly inept and the “dirt” from the battle for power has manifested itself as seeming to be racist and anti-immigrant! They appointed an immigrant to their governing board and then the internal fight began and the unfortunate Omar Mustafa was forced to resign less than a week later. But the double whammy for the Social Democrats is that in addition to their dirty washing becoming visible they now look exactly like the party they love to hate – the covertly racist and overtly anti-immigrant Swedish Democrats!

(If I were to be very cynical it could even seem that the Social Democrats are trying to win some of the anti-immigrant vote back from the Sweden Democrats).

 The LocalEmbattled Social Democrat Omar Mustafa, who also chairs Sweden’s Islamic Association (Islamiska förbundet), resigned from all his duties with the party on Saturday night, bowing to calls from within the party that he leave the governing board.

“The party leadership believes that having a mandate within the party and within Muslim civil society is incompatible. The party leadership’s view isn’t only regrettable, it’s also a frightening signal to Muslims and other Social Democrats who are people of faith,” he wrote in an open letter. 

“I therefore feel that the party leadership doesn’t have confidence in me and have forced me to resign from all my duties in the party.”

Mustafa, 28, was chosen to sit on the governing board of the left-of-centre opposition party at last weekend’s party congress. Mustafa’s announcement came following a Saturday night crisis meeting among Social Democrats in Stockholm who had previously lobbied to have him included in the party’s governing board.

“Knowing what we know now and considering how events unfolded, the situation became unsustainable. I therefore urged him to resign,” Veronica Palm, chair of the Social Democrats in Stockholm, told TT.  Palm explained that she and her colleagues had nominated Mustafa to the Social Democrats’ governing board because he’d “done a good job” for the party in Stockholm.

The Local continues in its next article:

.. Demonstrator Malika Moor has supported the Social Democrats for 36 years, but said she wouldn’t vote for the party today.

“I don’t understand why it’s come to this. It might be because his name is Omar, because he’s an immigrant, or a Muslim. I really want the Social Democrats to explain this to us,” she told TT.

Meanwhile, 29 active Social Democrats signed an open letter published on Tuesday in the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper taking issue with the party’s management of the situation.

According to the authors, it’s unacceptable that someone elected at a party congress should be forced to resign due to unfounded criticism from party colleagues and media hype.

They demand the party leadership distance itself from the accusations directed toward Mustafa and express their confidence in him. The authors also want those who published the unfounded accusations to apologize.

“We state with sorrow and anger that Mustafa was forced to leave the party’s governing board,” they wrote.


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