Political Turmoil Grips Sweden

The high stakes if new elections are called.

Political turmoil is gripping Sweden.  Since the September 9th, 2018 elections in which the Swedish Democrats (the nationalists), an anti-immigrant party took 17.5% of the vote, gaining 62 seats in the 349 seat Swedish parliament or Riksdag, no new government has been formed.  Nevertheless, the Swedish Democrats (SD) have become the king-makers. 

The leftist Social-Democrats, although the largest vote getter with 100 seats, do not have enough partners to form a coalition government.  On the center-right, Ulf Kristersson, 54, leader of the Moderate party (70 seats), cannot form a government with his opposition partners without having at least the silent support of the Swedish Democrats.  The Center (31 seats), and Liberal (20 seats) parties, however, will not accept a situation in which the Swedish Democrats are silently backing the government.  That leaves Kristersson with only his 70 seats in addition to the Christian Democrats 22 seats, to form a minority government of 92, and even with the Swedish Democrats backing, it would garner only 154 seats, less than the 175 seat majority.  Similarly, the Social Democrats cannot form a coalition government with the Left party (28 seats) and the Greens (16 seats).  Their total is even smaller with 144 seats.  The third scenario is a coalition of the Moderate Party plus the Center party for a total of 143 seats, not enough to form a functional government.

Jimmie Akesson, 39, the new leader of the right-wing Swedish Democrats party, has reformed the image of the party.  He has imposed a zero-tolerance on open expression of racism and xenophobia by its members. He also changed the party symbol, a flaming torch, into a friendly blue and yellow flower (blue and yellow are the colors of the Swedish flag).  The Swedish Democrats under Akesson have captured 17.5% of the vote, or 62 seats in the Riksdag, up from 49 seats in 2014.  The SD party gained the highest number of seats (13), whereas the Social Democrats lost 13.  The SD party has capitalized on the limitless immigration policy that has characterized the Lofven government.

One thing is clear. The Swedish voters wanted a change, and this last election was a protest vote against the immigration policies of the 61-year old Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, and his Social Democrat led coalition government.  During Lofven’s reign as Prime Minister, Sweden has taken in 163,000 migrants in 2015 alone, the largest number per capita anywhere in Europe.  Prime Minister Lofven conceded that Sweden could no longer cope with the influx.  While border controls have been tightened, many Swedes feel shaken by a rising sense of insecurity, fueled by reports of rapes, car burnings, and gang violence in migrant neighborhoods, perpetrated mostly by recently arrived Middle Eastern migrants.  Native Swedes have expressed anxiety that Sweden is losing its cultural heritage.  Sadly, the left-leaning Swedish media has deliberately misreported the extent of crime and violence committed by the migrants.  The politically correct culture that pervades this country of 10 million has made it a “crime” to expose migrant criminal activities.  

Visiting Sweden less than two-years ago, this reporter saw living evidence of the changes that have occurred in Sweden’s demography since the previous visit in 2009.  More than a third of the disembarking train passengers at the Central train station in Stockholm, appeared to be not native Swedes.  Virtually all the service jobs, from passenger ticketing office clerks, to kiosk tenders were non-native Swedes.  A large number of them were Middle Easterners.  According to Wikipedia, 2,434,007 or 24.1 % of Sweden’s population is foreign born.  Syrian migrants formed the largest group of foreign-born in 2017 with 172,258, followed by Iraqis 140,830, and Iranian 72,096.

In Malmo, Sweden’s third largest city, Muslim (Middle Eastern) immigrants are the controlling force.  As a result, its Jewish population has been under siege.  Anti-Semitism has risen dramatically as a result of the influx in Middle Eastern migrants.  Jews are fleeing Sweden, especially the young people.  They do not believe that Sweden offers them a future free of violence and anti-Semitism stemming from Middle Eastern migrants. Speaking to a young Jewish veteran of the Swedish army in his late twenties, he intimated to me that Sweden is no longer the country he grew up in, and that it has become dangerous for Jews to live in Europe in general.  He was planning to move to either Israel or the U.S. 

The Chabad Synagogue in Stockholm, close to the center of town, had no sign posted for fear of violence.  One had to call for directions, and had to make special arrangements to have somebody from inside open the door.  The windows of the synagogue were totally covered, and it appeared to be that the fear of violence is impeding on the open and free practice of religion, specifically Judaism, in liberal and multicultural Sweden. In cities such as Malmo, a tennis tournament was disrupted when it was revealed that Israeli athletes were participating. The authorities did nothing to prevent the disruption.  The arrival of hundreds of thousands of Arab migrants from Syria, Iraq, and Iran has had an impact on Sweden’s relationship with Israel.  The current Social-Democratic led government has been one of the most hostile to the Jewish state.

Naturally, not all Middle Eastern Swedes are anti-Semitic or hostile to Israel.  Kurdish-Muslims are the one clear exception. The Kurdish community has been in Sweden long before the arrival of the current influx.  In Stockholm, while invited to address a leadership group of Kurds from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey, I was hosted by a gracious and wonderful Syrian Kurdish doctor.  In addition, I was on a Swedish TV panel with a Member of Parliament from the Liberal party.  Kurds in Sweden are probably the only group of tolerant Muslims that seek a close relationship with the Jewish community.  Kurdish friends took me  to a section of Stockholm inhabited by recent Middle Eastern migrants.  They told me that no Swedish police dare enter the ghetto where we ate lunch.  The male migrants still wear the Jellabiya and the women, the hijab.  Hardly anyone is employed.  They live off the “progressive” welfare payments and free medical coverage, and housing and education provided by the government.

Angus, a native Swede with a characteristically Swedish appearance, (blond hair and blue eyes), who is a water-taxi driver during the summer, and a student the rest of the year, was telling me that he intended to vote for the SD Party.  He explained, “I have to pay taxes, pay tuition, and find it hard to find accommodations near the university.  Yet, the newly arrived migrants receive free housing, free tuition, and do not pay taxes.” He blamed the Social-Democrat for this anomaly.  Like Angus, many other young people have abandoned their previous attachment to the establishment parties and voted for the SD Party.  

If, after four attempts to form a government ends in a deadlock, new elections must be called for.  Should Swedes be asked to cast their votes again, polls predict that the biggest beneficiary will be the SD Party.  Yet, thus far, both the Center and the Liberal parties have refused being associated with the SD Party.  That leaves Sweden in political turmoil.