We spoke with a Comrade in Sweden about the political situation there.
First we asked about how the government has been dealing with the Corona virus:
Since the last parliamentary election in 2018, there’s been a minority lead government with the Social Democrats, Miljöpartiet (Green Party), Liberals and Centerpartiet (Neoliberals). The Social Democrats have traditionally been the single largest party in Swedish politics for about 100 years, and most governments have been led by them.
This year, the Corona pandemic has been the most important issue in Swedish politics. The new “informal” conservative block led by Moderaterna(second largest party in parliament) the Christian Democrats and the Sweden Democrats have tried to smear the Swedish Corona strategy though, where they themselves would rather see harsher restrictions.
Many Social Democratic voters have now turned to the Left Party because the Social
Democrats have agreed to many demands from it’s liberal and neoliberal support parties. For example the restrictions of labour rights.
In comparison to other countries, there was never a lockdown in Sweden, but rather
recommendations to follow. While many of us started working from home, we could still have a social life. For example, when going to the pub, we could go out and have fun with friends, but according to restrictions, you’d have to keep 1.5 meter away from other companies.
This made it less difficult to later reopen the society, while in countries that reopened from lockdown, there were many new Corona cases.
At first, there was a fear that the hospitals would be overcrowded, but that scenario never happened. In general, Swedes tend to have confidence in authorities. In this case, the government made recommendations based on experts, compared to in many countries, political decisions were the primary reason for lockdown.
Some people have lost their jobs, and some had to work part-time with 90% of their wage.
People who lost their jobs, have experienced issues in getting their income insurance of 80% as there’s been many delays in payments. Which of course is disastrous, especially when you count and rely on it.
During the circumstances though, the situation for both mental wellbeing and for jobs, the Swedish strategy have so far turned out to be the best in the West, at least.
Next we asked about migration to the country:
Sweden has for generations experienced waves of immigration from certain areas. There’s approximately two million foreign born people living in Sweden. Finns used to be the largest immigrant group up until 2017, when Syrians became the largest immigrant group in Sweden.When the far-right like to talk about Sweden as overcrowded by immigrants, they don’t like to talk about Finns and other Europeans.
It’s not as scary to talk about then. In 2019, 9% of all foreign born people were Syrians, and 5,6% were Finns.
The Finns have a long history of migrating to Sweden, and as the first migrant group to Sweden, they were met with prejudice, like refugees from Syria are now. Today, not many people consider the Finns as unwelcome in Sweden. Similar to when Irish people went to England for better lives.
In my experience, those refugees I know have managed to learn the Swedish language and adapt to Swedish society better than for example people coming from English speaking countries. I have some friends from English speaking countries like the US, Ireland, Britain, Australia, who never bothered about learning Swedish, even after living in the country for many years. No problems, but nobody ever tells them that it’s time to integrate or go home.
The problems with segregation though, is mostly that when refugees are coming here, they have often no other options but to move to already segregated areas.
Segregated areas tend to have an unemployment rate above the national average, and those who have jobs are working in low-income jobs. Schools and other social services also tend to have less resources than the average parts of the countries. Segregated areas usually have a higher rate of migrants living there for sure, but a majority of migrants in Sweden don’t live there though, as they live in many places.
A minority of migrants live in areas with a majority migrant population, so to say 🙂 It’s easy for people who have never been to Swedish cities, if you’re abroad or living in the Swedish countryside, to believe in horror stories and “no go areas” and other made up stories.
We asked about the Fascist presence in Sweden:
We do have a Swedish nationalist party in the government, the Sweden Democrats (3rd biggest party in the parliament) who have its roots in the white power movement. It was even formed by a former SS member. In the 2000´s they got into parliament, but they have consequently tried to “prove” they are not racist and have nothing to do with Nazis anymore. Often their elected representatives turn out to be racists behind closed doors.
The Sweden Democrats like talking about the problems with immigration and all problems tend to stem from immigration in their view. 20% of the elected representatives for the party are convicted for crimes themselves, which apparently to them is not a problem.
In 2018, there was a split from the Sweden Democrats, where some prominent members left and created a new party, Alternative for Sweden, which the Sweden Democrats themselves described as neo-fascist. Alternative for Sweden belongs to the alt-right movement. By the election in 2018, they ordered ten million ballot papers and expected to get into parliament but only managed to get 20,290 votes.
They are nowadays only going to schools, handing out flyers. Most of the times they are told to fuck off by local students.
The most violent Nazi group is the Nordic Resistance Movement, who have also tried running in elections. They set up a few candidates in local elections, and expected to have representatives elected in their stronghold, Ludvika, where many of its members relocated. Still they didn’t manage to get enough votes to field a single representative.
Their strength is mostly in intimidating and threatening those who oppose them. Their founder, Klas Lund, has also been convicted of killing a man, Ronny Landin, after Ronny stood up to him and a group of fascists who were chasing a group of 13 year old migrant kids at Midsummer in 1986.
Oh yeah, they also had a split a while ago, where some of their members formed an even more cult-like group.
Finally, we asked about anti-fascist efforts to combat this:
There are many different groups organising and working against fascism in Sweden at the moment, depending on the situation. In the early 2000’s there was a more militant approach to fascism, where a variety of groups participated.
Most notorious was the Revolutionära Fronten(RF) and Antifascist Action(AFA). Revolutionära Fronten did participate in lots of good work, including workers’ struggle, but is most well-known for antifascism. They disbanded in 2015 though. At the time though, there was a far bigger threat from violent Nazis, than it is today.
The reason why that threat have demised over years, is the results of the militant anti-fascist struggle. Since the 80’s, violent racists and Nazis have commited 47 murders, while antifascists haven’t committed any.
In 2014, the Nordic Resistance Movement attacked a peaceful anti-racist demonstration. Many participants at the anti-racist demonstration brought their children, expecting not to get attacked by violent Nazis. When the Nazis attacked, armed with bottles, knives and flag poles, there were only a few police there, and they didn’t do anything to fend off the Nazis.
It was then in the hands of the antifascists to defend children and families.
The police have actually later stated that they don’t dare to stand up against the Nordic Resistance Movement, as they are very violent. They have attacked the police a few times at demonstrations, even breaking the arm on one police during a confrontation.
There are still militant antifascists today when necessary, but antifascism today is mostly seen today within the organising of leftwing groups.