The election in Sweden on September 9th has left the country in disarray – with neither of the two traditional political blocs gaining enough majority to form a government. Instead, the rise of the Sweden Democrats, the populist party which has led its campaigning with anti-immigration politics and scare tactics, has led the country into a political gridlock after gaining 17% of the country’s votes and becoming the third largest party in Sweden.
With close to every 5th person in Sweden voting for a party that stems from a nazi movement and stands for racist and sexist values – it is clear that Sweden should no longer be crowned for equality, inclusiveness and openness.
The Sweden Democrats have not only gained ground in this election, they have pushed the whole political debate towards the objectification of people – asylum seekers, immigrants, people of color, Muslims, women – and grouping people against each other.
Politicians have suggested harsher immigration control, rather than discussing human rights and the actual need for little Sweden to increase its population to sustain its economy – or even the economic growth we have seen (largely due to the increase in migration).
A negative and angry tone of insensitivity and prejudice has infiltrated our country’s corridors of power and blinded our leaders, inhibiting them from seeing all people in a positive light – with the same rights and the same obligations. Facts are distorted and groups of people are demonized. The political discourse has seeped down into all levels of society, enabling hateful rhetoric, open discrimination and abuse.
We can be angry about the outcome of this election, and I’m absolutely certain there are many people who walk the streets of my home country scared.
It is more than time to change the conversation. We need to talk to each other. We need to understand the facts. We need to share each other’s stories.
We need to be careful not to sit back in the comfort of our privileged lives and ignore suffering. We need to listen. And those of us who can need to act – in solidarity and with love.
Racism is alive and thriving in Sweden. Sexism and misogyny too. My stomach aches. This is Sweden 2018.
Yet, I’m reluctant to end this post here. Because this isn’t the end, it just means that there is work to do – there has always been work to do, it just became more visible for all of us. So, I’m going to get cracking.