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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Rightist surge in Swedish opinion poll

Sweden’s right-wing Sweden Democrats are now neck and neck with the ruling Social Democrats in opinion polls. Though vilified and demonized, the party’s success represents a complete failure of liberalism in the face of reality.

The Sweden Democrats – who were until recently dismissed as a fringe, racist party – are now surging in the polls. A voter survey, commissioned by the Dagens Nyheter newspaper last week, puts the party within 0.2 percentage points of Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s left-wing Social Democrats. Moreover, voters now agree with the party’s policies on nine out of nine issues.

On immigration, 43 percent of voters side with the party and its leader, Jimmie Akesson. Only 15 percent favor Lofven’s policies. Likewise, 31 percent favor Akesson’s position on law and order, compared to 19 percent for Lofven.

The press has not made Akesson’s ride to the top easy. Yet, most outlets have failed to dig up dirt on the 40-year-old politician, who like France’s Marine Le Pen, has made a point of distancing his party from its extreme-right roots and presenting a clean-cut image.

Akesson was rounded in the media for admitting to an online gambling addiction several years ago, but voters evidently didn’t mind. Akesson’s past comments about homosexual parents were dug up by author Jonas Gardell for a much-publicized op-ed two weeks ago, readers gave him their vote a week later regardless. Do-gooding musician Bono even made a spectacle of comparing Akesson to Hitler before last year’s elections, to no avail.

It’s not difficult to find the real reason for Akesson’s popularity. Sweden is in the throes of a crime wave. Murder, assault, rape, threats, and harassment have all skyrocketed since 2015, according to the country’s Crime Prevention Council. Sexual offenses in particular have tripled in the last four years, while murder and manslaughter have more than doubled.

Furthermore, Sweden has emerged as the hand grenade attack capital of Europe. In 2018 there were 162 bombings reported to police, and 93 reported in the first five months of this year, 30 more than during the same period in 2018. The level of attacks is “extreme in a country that is not at war,” Crime Commissioner Gunnar Appelgren told SVT last year.

A 2017 investigation found that immigrants, the majority of them from the Middle East and North Africa, were behind 90 percent of shootings in Sweden. Meanwhile, the country’s police force has identified 50 immigrant-heavy neighborhoods as “vulnerable”  – a term many have taken to mean “no-go zones.”

The Sweden Democrats reject multiculturalism, and have proposed a tightening of immigration law and a return of refugees to their home countries. The party has advocated life without parole for serious offenses, and the deportation of foreigners found guilty of serious crimes.

“Many of us remember another Sweden,” Akesson wrote in an op-ed last month. “An everyday life where crime was there but not so close. Crime that was not as crude and ruthless as what we see today.”

Akesson’s paean to the past has been criticized as the typical nostalgia of nationalism, but in its place, Lofven has only offered denial, blaming “segregation,” poverty and unemployment for the crime in Sweden’s ghettos.

“The segregation is because there is…too high unemployment in these areas. But that would have been the same regardless of who had lived there. If you put people born in Sweden under the same conditions, you get the same result” he said in an interview with SVT last month.

However, unemployment has fallen as shootings have risen. Even if unemployment alone is to blame for violence, Lofven did not mention the fact that the unemployment rate among migrants in Sweden is triple the national average, while 90 percent of refugees who arrived since the 2015 migrant crisis are unemployed.

Instead, his government has engaged in across-the-board denialism. The taxpayer-funded Swedish Institute puts out videos downplaying the crime problem and literally telling critics on Twitter that “nothing has happened here in Sweden.” The institute has also created an Arabic-language advertising campaign inviting prospective migrants in with promises of generous welfare benefits.

Lofven publicly denied the existence of “no-go zones” in a statement given at the White House last year. But when crime statistics tell a different story, the Ministry of Justice has a plan for that too: suppress “politically sensitive” information, meddle with figures, and ignore embarrassing results.

Lofven’s liberalism may have resonated with voters when he came to power in 2014. But the migrant crisis and subsequent crime wave that followed a year later proved its undoing, as the country was repaid for its humanitarianism in blood and a drain on welfare. A quick google search reveals hundreds of articles that pose questions like “Why is Sweden shifting to the right?”

The answer to that question is simple. Liberalism has clashed with reality, and lost.

(This article was published on with the headline ‘Triumph of the right in Sweden is a result of the total failure of liberalism’ on December 23, 2019 and has been reproduced here in full.)

(Featured image source)

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