After reeling from the sight of approximately 100 burning cars, frequent shootings, grenade attacks and sexual assaults, populism is rising in Sweden - as evidenced by the anti-immigration right-wing Sweden Democrats party surging in polls leading up to next month's September 9 elections. Both the center-left and center-right parties have ruled out working with the Sweden Democrats, a party with neo-Nazi roots that wants to freeze immigration and to hold a referendum on Sweden’s membership of the European Union. That said, the moderate parties may be forced to adopt SD measures in order to assuage public calls for tougher policies on crime and immigration.
In response, the head of the center-right Moderate party, Ulf Kristersson, is now on the offensive when it comes to crime and migrants - telling the Financial Times that Swedes have lost trust in the government, and that the country is "paying the price for 20 years of "very unsuccessful integration policies" by both left and rightwing governments."
"There is a crisis in politics being able to solve problems," Kristersson lamented. "Is politics able to do anything at all?"
Sweden, held up in international surveys as one of the world’s happiest and most successful countries, has been jolted by frequent shootings, grenade attacks and arson attacks on cars in suburbs with a heavy immigrant population in Stockholm, Malmo and Gothenburg. -FT
Kristersson said Sweden faces a crisis as serious as when it reeled from financial and economic problems in the early '90s, when interest rates spiked 500% and several banks were in need of rescue.
“We have been saying it [is unacceptable] since 2013, and showing in practice that we accept it. This is threatening very basic values. [The car fires are] a sign that things happen that should not happen, that did not happen, that this is not an extreme event,” he added, Kristersson added.
To address Sweden's exploding elephant in the room, the Moderate party has rolled out a series of platform planks dealing with crime and immigration. Some highlights from their website (translated):
- At least 10,000 more police officers by year 2024
- The elimination of reduced sentences for youths aged 18-21
- Increase the minimum penalty for rape and for gross sexual abuse
- Each police region should have a group specializing in investigating sexual offenses
- Crack down on "hate gange criminals"
- Sweden will receive fewer asylum seekers than in recent years
- Requirements for self-sufficiency and knowledge in Swedish for permanent residence
- A common quota system in the EU
- Revoke the citizenship of the person who committed serious crime against the state or lied on their application
- A national ban on begging
Nothing about the "migrant sex courses" the government is pumping over half-a-million USD into, which aims to stem rampant reports of sexual assault over the last several years, as rape was up 10% across the country in 2017 with 7,230 reported cases. Meanwhile reports of sexual molestation, coercion and exploitation up between three and seven percent across 12,130 reports.
Last week, Swedes were horrified after "multiple gangs of masked youths" rampaged across three major Swedish cities, setting cars on fire using Molotov cocktails in what appears to have been a coordinated action.
BREAKING: Serious situation in Sweden. Youths torched around 14 cars near a shopping centre in Gothenburg pic.twitter.com/Ia9vbMnNV0— Voice of Europe 🌐 (@V_of_Europe) August 13, 2018
Meanwhile, the country's rise of extreme populist groups in Sweden is accelerating fast.
Many Swedes were horrified in early 2017 when U.S. President Donald Trump linked immigration to rising crime in Sweden, but an increasing number now agree with him.
The Sweden Democrats have succeeded in linking the two in the minds of many voters, even though official statistics show no correlation between overall levels of crime and immigration.
Sweden has one of the highest levels of lethal gun violence in Europe, World Health Organisation data showed. But while the number of foreign-born citizens has risen for decades, murder rates are roughly flat. -Reuters
As Reuters notes, dozens of people have been killed in the past two years in attacks in the capital Stockholm and other big cities by gangs that are mostly from run-down suburbs dominated by immigrants.
According to data released by Swedish police in December, there were 306 shootings in Sweden last year, resulting in 41 deaths. Swedish officials, meanwhile, had refused to acknowledge migrants as a primary factor. In December of 2016, Sweden's freshly minted "Anti-Terror" coordinator, Anna Carlstedt, blamed Islamic Terrorism on "White Power" her first day in office.
And let's not forget about those grenade attacks, such as the one in January at a Malmo police station:
Grenade attacks in Sweden have been on the rise since 2012, though the rate in 2017 was considerably lower than in previous years, at 10 attacks vs. 34 the previous year. In 2016, an 8 year old boy sleeping in the living room of relatives in Gothenburg, Sweden was killed by a grenade thrown into the room. "At least five children and several adults were in the flat when the grenade was hurled inside," according to the BBC, who added that the boy died in his mother's arms.
In February, 2017 a man was injured outside of a residence after a grenade was thrown:
Explosion, suspected grenade attack in Malmo. One injured: https://t.co/kmoumRdDhJ— Tim Pool (@Timcast) February 27, 2017
Moreover, in a February 2017 article that the Huffington Post deleted entitled "Trump is absolutely right about Sweden" Norwegian journalist, author, and world traveler Reni Zografos outlines the country's sweeping problems with immigrants and crime - along with the failure by foreign media to cover the problems.
Its well known to Scandinavians and other Europeans that liberal immigration comes with drugs, rapes, gang wars, robbery and violence. In addition to that we see the respective nations' cultures fading away, for good and for bad. But the immigration problem is not only a Swedish predicament.
The fact is that the press here in Europe hasnt been doing their job properly. There is this fear on the part of journalists to not report the basic truth - which is that Europe has enormous problems that comes from liberal immigration politics, and as we now see not just in Sweden, but also here in Norway. -Reni Zografos
Meanwhile, the Sweden Democrats still trail the Social Democratic Party but has overtaken the main opposition Moderates in many polls. All mainstream parties have ruled out working with them.
But they could emerge from the election as kingmakers, and a strong election showing could force the next government to take their views into consideration when shaping policy.
Their policies include a total freeze on asylum seekers and accepting refugees only from Sweden’s neighbors in the future. They also want tougher penalties for crime and more powers for police, and say tax cuts and higher spending on welfare could be funded by cutting the immigration budget.
Jimmie Akesson, the leader of the Sweden Democratic party, has described the situation as “pretty fantastic”.
“We are dominating the debate even though no one will talk to us,” he told party members.
The Sweden Democrats have succeeded in linking the two in the minds of many voters, even though official statistics show no correlation between overall levels of crime and immigration. However, while the government denies it has lost control but Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has not ruled out sending the military into problem areas.
“Sweden is going down a more right-wing path,” said Nick Aylott, a political scientist at Sodertorn University said.“It is almost impossible to avoid according some sort of influence to a party with around 20 percent of the vote.”
Trump was right after all.