“Trains and hospitals don’t work, but immigration continues,” Roger Mathson, a retired vegetable oil factory worker in Sweden, told Bloomberg on the same day as the violent, coordinated rampage by masked gangs of youths across five Swedish cities.
We noted earlier that Swedish politicians were quick to react with anti-immigrant party 'Sweden Democrats' seeing a surge in the polls ahead of the September 9th election.
“I’m not a racist, but I’m a nationalist,” Mathson said. “I don’t like seeing the town square full of Niqab-clad ladies and people fighting with each other.”
Is Sweden set to have its own political earthquake in September, where general elections could end a century of Social Democratic dominance and bring to power a little known (on the world stage), but the now hugely popular nationalist party often dubbed far-right and right-wing populist, called Sweden Democrats?
Sweden, a historically largely homogeneous population of 10 million, took in an astounding 600,000 refugees over the past five years, and after Swedes across various cities looked out their windows Tuesday to see cars exploding, smoke filling the skies, and possibly armed masked men hurling explosives around busy parking lots, it appears they've had enough.
Riots in #Sweden. 6 or 7 black dressed masked youths , Around 60 cars have been put on fire several places in #Gothenburg on Monday night. Vehicle fires are also reported in Helsingborg, Trollhättan and Malmö. #EU #Trump pic.twitter.com/JxuBfuoxxe— Alexander Hansen (@AlexanderXV) August 13, 2018
Over the past years of their rise as a political force in Swedish politics, the country's media have routinely labelled the Sweden Democrats as "racists" and "Nazis" due to their seemingly single issue focus of anti-immigration and strong Euroscepticism.
A poll at the start of this week indicated the Sweden Democrats slid back to third place after topping three previous polls as the September election nears; however, Tuesday's national crisis and what could legitimately be dubbed a serious domestic terror threat is likely to boost their popularity.
Dozens of vehicles have been set on fire in western Sweden in what appears to be a series of coordinated arson attacks; people dressed in all black fled the scenes pic.twitter.com/jkpB0Otzd7— BNO News (@BNONews) August 13, 2018
Bloomberg's profile of their leader, Jimmie Akesson, echoes the tone of establishment Swedish media in the way they commonly cast the movement, beginning as follows:
Viking rock music and whole pigs roasting on spits drew thousands of Swedes to a festival hosted by nationalists poised to deliver their country’s biggest political upheaval in a century.
The Sweden Democrats have been led since 2005 by a clean-cut and bespectacled man, Jimmie Akesson. He’s gentrified a party that traces its roots back to the country’s neo-Nazi, white supremacist fringe. Some polls now show the group may become the biggest in Sweden’s parliament after general elections on Sept. 9. Such an outcome would end 100 years of Social Democratic dominance.
The group's popularity began surging after the 2015 immigration crisis began, which first hit Europe's southern Mediterranean shores and quickly moved northward as shocking wave after wave of migrants came.
Akesson emphasizes something akin to a "Sweden-first" platform which European media often compares to Trump's "America First"; and the party has long been accused of preaching forced assimilation into Swedish culture to be become a citizen.
Bloomberg's report surveys opinions at a large political rally held in Akkeson's hometown of Solvesborg, and some of the statements are sure to be increasingly common sentiment after this week's coordinated multi-city attack:
At his party’s festival, Akesson revved up the crowd by slamming the establishment’s failures, calling the last two governments the worst in Swedish history. T-shirts calling for a Swexit, or an exit from the EU, were exchanged as bands played nationalist tunes.
Ted Lorentsson, a retiree from the island of Tjorn, said he’s an enthusiastic backer of the Sweden Democrats. “I think they want to improve elderly care, health care, child care,” he said. “Bring back the old Sweden.” But he also acknowledges his view has led to disagreement within his family as his daughter recoils at what she feels is the “Hitler”-like rhetoric.
No doubt, the media and Eurocrats in Brussels will take simple, innocent statements from elderly retirees like "bring back the old Sweden" as nothing short of declaration of a race war, but such views will only solidify after this week.
Another Sweden Democrat supporter, a 60-year old woman who works at a distillery, told Bloomberg, “I think you need to start seeing the whole picture in Sweden and save the original Swedish population,” she said. “I’m not racist, because I’m a realist.”
Sweden's two biggest parties, the Social Democrats and Moderates, are now feeling the pressure as Swedes increasingly worry about key issues preached by Akesson like immigration, law and order, and health care - seen as under threat by a mass influx of immigrants that the system can't handle.
Bloomberg explains further:
But even young voters are turning their backs on the establishment. One potential SD supporter is law student Oscar Persson. Though he hasn’t yet decided how he’ll vote, he says it’s time for the mainstream parties to stop treating the Sweden Democrats like a pariah. “This game they are playing now, where the other parties don’t want to talk to them but still want their support, is something I don’t really understand,” he said.
Akesson has managed to entice voters from both sides of the political spectrum with a message of more welfare, lower taxes and savings based on immigration cuts.
With many Swedes now saying immigration has “gone too far” and as this week's events have once again thrust the issue before both a national and global audience, the next round of polling will mostly like put Sweden's conservative-right movements on top.