Both Trump and the Sweden Democrats are wrong

The extre­mist par­ty the Sweden Democrats have voi­ced sup­port for Donald Trump and his remarks about Sweden during his spee­ch last week. Both Trump and his new fri­ends in the Sweden Democrats are allu­ding to a fal­se pictu­re of Sweden that’s being spre­ad with the sole pur­po­se to cre­a­te con­flict and for­ti­fy a natio­na­list agen­da. 

After Donald Trump’s remarks about Sweden last week, many Swedes were baff­led, and right­ful­ly so. It was like the US President was spe­a­king about a country in anot­her, grueso­me dimen­sion.

The rea­li­ty is qui­te dif­fe­rent.

Immigration has contributed to Sweden’s prosperity

The Swedish eco­nomy is boo­ming. Not despi­te but to some extent thanks to Sweden’s gene­rous immi­gra­tion poli­ci­es. Sweden ranks first in Forbes’ annu­al list of the Best Countries for Business 2017.

Furthermore, a 2015 report by Swedish eco­no­mists Sandro Scocco and Lars Fredrik Andersson, con­clu­ded that immi­gra­tion from the 50’s until today has con­tri­bu­ted to the Swedish eco­nomy with a net value of about a hund­red bil­li­on dol­lars.

Our small nation, with roughly ten mil­li­on inha­bi­tants, would be much poo­rer wit­hout immi­gra­tion.

Sweden is safer than before

Sweden is also, in many respects, safer than ever befo­re.

The rate of self repor­ted expo­su­re to assault is going down accor­ding to The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (BRÅ).

Murder and manslaughter has stay­ed on a ste­a­dy level sin­ce 2005. The ove­rall trend is, however, a sig­ni­fi­cant decre­a­se sin­ce the 90’s. This has occur­red even though the popu­la­tion has grown with about a mil­li­on sin­ce then. The cur­rent rate of inten­tio­nal homi­ci­de is about 1 per 100 000 people in Sweden, accor­ding to the World Bank. The rate in the US is about 5 per 100 000 people.

Self repor­ted expo­su­re to sex offences has stay­ed ste­a­dy during the past years. There was an incre­a­se in 2015, but BRÅ reports that the­se sta­tistics can’t be inter­pre­ted as a defi­ni­ti­ve incre­a­se. Reports to the poli­ce about rape, however, went down with twel­ve per cent between 2014 and 2015.

The myth of Sweden as Europe’s ‘rape capi­tal’ has been debun­ked on seve­ral occa­sion.

The Swedish govern­ment takes rape seri­ously and is the­re­fo­re cur­rent­ly pre­pa­ring new legis­la­tion (SOU 2016:60). This will entail offences not pre­viously cate­go­ri­sed as rape. In Sweden we have a high report rate of rape com­pa­red to most other countri­es, part­ly thanks to a pub­lic deba­te that has aimed to era­di­ca­te the stig­ma for victims to come for­ward and report the rapist. Thanks to a strong femi­nist move­ment in Sweden, the govern­ment is effecti­ve with legis­la­ti­ve actions to com­bat sex­u­al offences.

What about riots?

There are are­as in Sweden that are occa­sio­nal­ly struck by soci­al unrest. These are main­ly poor suburbs to the capi­tal, Stockholm.

Since many people of immi­grant descent live the­re, the Sweden Democrats are keen to bla­me the­se events on immi­gra­tion and immi­grants. They are always igno­rant about the fact that the abso­lu­te majo­ri­ty of the inha­bi­tants of the­se suburbs don’t riot and work tire­less­ly to keep their neigh­bour­hood safe. For example this ini­ti­a­ti­ve with mot­hers patrolling the stre­ets at night.

The riots should pri­ma­rily be seen as a sym­tom of incre­a­sing socio-eco­no­mic divi­des. This is under­li­ned by the fact that riots and con­fron­ta­tions between youth and the poli­ce is not a new phe­no­me­non in Sweden. There have been simi­lar events in wor­king class are­as throug­hout Swedish histo­ry, long befo­re Sweden pro­vi­ded shel­ter for refu­ge­es in lar­ger num­bers.

Södermalm in central Stockholm, nowa­days inha­bi­ted by a prospe­rous midd­le class, used to be a wor­king class area known for soci­al unrest. In 1948, youth from the Södermalm area gat­he­red in thousands, throwing bott­les and sto­nes at the poli­ce.

In 1951, poli­ce from five dif­fe­rent citi­es were sent to Stockholm to enga­ge against 3 000 civi­li­ans, rio­ting in the park of Berzelii. Yet anot­her big riot occur­red at Hötorget in 1965, right in the heart of Stockholm, with youth con­fron­ting poli­ce vio­lent­ly in lar­ge num­bers. Similar events occur­red in Kungsträdgården (“Kungsan”), central Stockholm, in 1987.

The list goes on. 

The rio­ters today don’t match the num­bers in the­se events, but usu­al­ly con­si­st of about 30–50 youngs­ters. This is indeed a pro­blem. But it isn’t sol­ved by tar­ge­ting all the law abi­ding, wor­king citi­zens of the­se are­as with racist pre­ju­di­ce.

Who are the Sweden Democrats?

Therefore many of us are equal­ly baff­led by the views voi­ced by Mattias Karlsson and Jimmie Åkesson, lea­ders of the Sweden Democrats (SD), in Wall Street Journal (2/​22/​2017).

There should be seri­ous con­cerns about the cre­di­bi­li­ty of mr Karlsson and mr Åkesson. 

It’s impor­tant to point out that they repre­sents a par­ty that sprung from vari­ous white supre­ma­cy groups in the late 80’s. Among the foun­ders you find Gustav Ekström who ser­ved as SS-Rottenführer under Heinrich Himmler between the years 1942–1945.

They repre­sent a par­ty that occa­sio­nal­ly had swasti­kas at their mee­tings during the 90’s – the same peri­od when Mr Åkesson cho­se to join the par­ty.

A par­ty that still has pro­blems with repre­sen­ta­ti­ves voi­cing racist views and being con­vic­ted for hate spee­ch. Research at Linköping University has found that the at least half of the voters of SD are poli­ti­cal­ly moti­va­ted by xenop­ho­bia and isla­mop­ho­bia.

The Sweden Democrats are eager to point out cri­mi­nal over repre­sen­ta­tion among immi­grants. An over repre­sen­ta­tion that is usu­al­ly explai­ned by socio eco­no­mic factors, demo­grap­hic factors (lar­ger male popu­la­tion), and raci­al bias in the justi­ce system. Still, their own mem­bers of par­li­a­ment, as a group, have a hig­her cri­me rate than immi­grants in Sweden.

A Sweden Democrat MP is almost twi­ce as likely to have been con­vic­ted for assault or aggra­va­ted assault as an immi­grant in Sweden, accor­ding to an inve­sti­ga­tion by jour­na­list Gellert Tamas.

The terror threat from nationalists and neo-Nazi groups

Jimmie Åkesson and Mattias Karlsson are eager to high­light the ter­ror attempt in Stockholm in December 2010 by an isla­mic extre­mist.

But they fail to tell you about the de facto gre­a­test dome­stic ter­ror thre­at, which is ter­ro­rism com­mitted by natio­na­lists and neo-Nazis.

  • Recently three neo-Nazis asso­ci­a­ted with the so cal­led Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR) were arrested after an asylum centre in Gothenburg was tar­ge­ted with a home­ma­de bomb attack on the 5th of January, lea­ving one per­son seri­ously inju­red.
  • Another neo-Nazi was arrested in January for the bom­bing of a tra­de uni­on offi­ce in Gothenburg on the 11th of November last year.
  •  In 2015, a Swedish neo-Nazi who had said he was going ”to be big­ger than Breivik” was arrested with 550 kilo­grams of dyna­mi­te. He was later con­vic­ted toget­her with the per­son who sold him the explo­si­ves. With ”Breivik” he was refer­ring to the Norwegian right wing ter­ro­rist Anders Behring Breivik who clai­med 77 lives, lea­ving 110 inju­red, on the 22nd of July 2011. The big­gest part of his victims were atten­dants of a sum­mer camp orga­ni­sed by the Norwegian Workers’ par­ty youth lea­gue.

Final words

We wel­come Americans showing gre­a­ter inte­rest in Sweden and Swedish poli­cy. But you deser­ve bet­ter sour­ces of infor­ma­tion than Donald Trump and repre­sen­ta­ti­ves of an extre­mist par­ty, such as the Sweden Democrats.

Text by Hanna Lundkvist



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  1. Chockerande hur inter­na­tio­nell och ame­ri­kansk media spyr ut flo­der av lögn­er om svensk poli­tik. Det mest skräm­man­de enligt mig är hur så många män­ni­skor påstår att “Trump hade rätt” när Trump själv inte vet någon­ting om Sverige och bara släng­er ur sig gro­da efter gro­da i hopp om att någon­ting fast­nar hos all­män­he­ten.

    Främlingsfientligeheten och rasis­men i vår värld måste få ett slut! Men vik­ti­gast av allt måste alla lögn­er och popu­lis­tis­ka irr­lä­ror få ett slut. Det är ju skräm­man­de hur många idi­o­ter som går ibland oss på gator­na. Känns som att var 3–4 per­son är en smygra­sist.

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