John covered an interesting story out of Sweden the other night which really struck me as a bit odd. It’s a tale of arson and vandalism, “hooligans” and riots. These are all things which I don’t generally associate with the country of Sweden for some reason, but it turns out that such acts of unrest are actually rather common there, particularly right before the beginning of the new school year. Yet these car fires (which numbered in the hundreds) hit multiple cities simultaneously, so it looked far too coordinated to write off as mere coincidence.
A bit more digging reveals that there’s definitely some serious unrest taking place in Sweden, but much of it hinges on politics. The areas where the arson and rioting were breaking out were mostly in lower-income urban areas, particularly the neighborhoods with a lot of recently arriving immigrants and refugees. Who was responsible and what the motives might be haven’t been established yet, but there are people in the country who are looking at the upcoming September 9th elections with an eye to curb this immigration tide and bring the more conservative Sweden Democrats (don’t be fooled by the name) into power after 100 years of control by the Social Democrats. (Bloomberg)
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.
In Akesson’s hometown of Solvesborg, large crowds cheered as he laid out the party’s vision for drastic cuts in immigration. His agenda is part of a global wave of nationalist and anti-establishment sentiment that has followed the 2008 financial crisis, with the election of Donald Trump in the U.S. and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union standing out as the starkest examples of the new world order.
This is a late-blooming mirror image of shifts we’ve observed in other parts of Europe over the past few years. Those efforts met with varying degrees of success, but the message was the same. The Sweden Democrats have attracted many Swedes who mostly say that they generally don’t mind immigration, but the flood of people who don’t meld into society has led to long delays in social welfare services and increases in violent crime. (Any of this sounding familiar?)
At the festival put together by the party’s leaders, they were selling Swexit t-shirts. The quotes provided from interviews with newly minted party members all sound familiar as well. One man who had recently switched over to the Sweden Democrats said, “Trains and hospitals don’t work, but immigration continues. I’m not a racist, but I’m a nationalist. I don’t like seeing the town square full of Niqab-clad ladies and people fighting with each other.”
It’s not an exact parallel because this is a far more socialist nation to begin with, but we’ve heard similar stories from people in France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Denmark and more. Little changes but the language being spoken. If the Sweden Democrats sweep to a clean victory and clear majority, the European Union is going to have one more headache on their hands. And the most recent polls are showing considerable movement in that direction. If the EU doesn’t want another “exit” movement brewing, they will need to be prepared to deal in good faith with the new Swedish government or face the prospect of their joining the Axis of the Willing with several other upstart nations.