White supremacist party dictates migration policy in Sweden

White supremacist party dictates migration policy in Sweden

Sweden holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU during the first half of 2023. This time, the traditionally tolerant and progressive Scandinavian country is led by a coalition government formed between the conservative parties with the support of the far-right Sweden democrats. The Moderate party, the Christian Democrats, and the Liberals, accepted in practice a fourth partner who, although out of the government, dictates migration and integration policies.

It is not the first time a country that holds the Presidency of the Council is led by a government whose views on delicate matters are in contrast with the EU values. Austria, which had the Presidency in the second semester of 2018 under a coalition government between the conservative People’s Party and the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), is mainly one of the most stringent paradigms.

However, this time the European Union is challenged by several issues: the still large number of refugees from Syria and other countries from the Asian and African continent, the war in Ukraine, and the attempt by authoritarian governments inside and outside the EU to destabilise the Union.

In Sweden instead of creating a “cordon sanitaire” around the white supremacist Swedish Democrats, the conservative parties capitulated to the demands of the far-right party. Thus, the Swedish EU presidency will work for increasing the number of returns of migrants denied asylum.

This was expressed by Maria Malmer Stenergard, migration minister for Sweden, who said at the EU interior ministers meeting in January, that she considers a major issue the return of greater numbers of refugees and migrants.

The hate speech spread by the party targets immigrants, refugees, and vulnerable groups. Nationalism, ecophobia and conspiracy theories make a dangerous for the Swedish democracy and the EU mixture.

At least since 2018, the UN warns of the rise of racism in the country.

However, the Swedish economy faces a severe shortage of skilled and non skilled workers as well as public administration. A state once praised for its efficiency now is characterised by increasing bureaucracy.

Dancing with the wolfs

The first sign of a possible collaboration between conservative parties and the SDs dates back to 2019. Then, the leader of Christian Democrats (KD) Ebba Busch Thor, now serving as Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden and Minister for Energy, Business, and Industry, announced that her party was seeking new partners in Riksdag (the Parliament). Speaking to Swedish Radio on Friday, March 22, said her party wants to talk to all parties, including Sweden Democrats.

A similar will was expressed by the leader of the Moderate Party Ulf Kristersson, today the Prime Minister. Practically this marked the end of the isolation of the far-right in Sweden, long a pariah in Swedish politics because of its historic neo-Nazi links. Both the two conservative parties paved the ground for stricter cooperation with the Sweden Democrats.

The rise of racism

Sweden should step up efforts to fight systemic racism and focus on strategies to restore trust between police and minority groups, the United Nations International Independent Expert Mechanism to advance racial justice in the context of law enforcement said on November 2022, after a five-day visit to the country.

The Experts gathered information on the existing legislative and regulatory scheme governing racial discrimination, as well as official measures and initiatives adopted to prevent and address racial discrimination. The visit sought to focus on both good practices and challenges faced by Sweden in upholding its human rights obligations on non-discrimination in the context of law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

“The collection, publication, and analysis of data disaggregated by race or ethnic origin in all aspects of life, especially regarding interactions with law enforcement and the criminal justice system, is an essential element for designing and assessing responses to systemic racism,” said Yvonne Mokgoro, chair of the Mechanism. “Sweden needs to collect and use this data to fight systemic racism.” [1]

However, the UN warned of the rise of racism already in 2018.

According to a report released on May 11, 2018, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) warned that racist hate speech against Afro-Swedes, Jews, Muslims, and Roma in Sweden was particularly prevalent “during election campaigns, as well as in the media and on the internet.”

“The Committee is particularly concerned with reports of arson attacks against mosques and reception centres for asylum seekers,” CERD said. [2]

As reported by The Local, [3] fires at asylum facilities around Sweden have occurred on several occasions since the number of migrants arriving in the country peaked in 2015. At least 112 blazes occurred at asylum accommodation centres, or planned accommodation centres, across Sweden in the following year, according to national police statistics.

The report also pointed to the “stereotypical representation of Muslims in the media, and by politicians.”

Stringent labour shortages

Already in 2018, Swedish local authorities realised that risked facing severe staffing shortages in the next ten years. They will need an extra 208,000 employees by 2025 to keep up with growing demand, but only 207,000 workers are projected to join the country’s entire labour force – the both public and private sectors. The public and private sectors end up competing for the same workers. [4]

Sweden needs to accelerate the speed of automation, increase employment and reform its welfare state, according to Annika Wallenskog, chief economist at the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions. Otherwise “we won’t have enough people to continue working the way we do.”

The situation persists. Shortages are detected in several industries including the booming tech sector, which will have a shortage of 25,000 game developers in ten years, according to a recent report by the Swedish Games Industry and the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth.

“Malfunctioning bureaucracy at the Migration Agency is the single biggest hurdle to Sweden’s ability to attract international talent – and yet it receives shockingly little attention in the political debate,” writes The Local’s editor Emma Löfgren. [5]

The first gloomy signs

Migration Minister Malmer Stenergard in a joint press conference with the Sweden Democrat parliamentary group leader Henrik Vinge, on January 23, announced a campaign aiming to discourage aspiring migrants/refugees from coming to Sweden.

The government with the assistance of the far-right group will deploy the ambitious and low-cost “international information campaign” targeting foreign authorities. “In the long run, the goal is that fewer people will come here,” the Minister said. The campaign will also target foreign media and foreign embassies in Sweden. [6]

Is it a serious deployment of a policy or a childish approach aiming at the local electoral constituency? It is surprising how conservatives and the far-right ignore, or disdain, the drivers of immigration worldwide. Natural catastrophes that render life impossible, local wars and organised crime, and economic crises, among other reasons, push the desperate to commit unimaginable acts, such as trespassing dangerous waters and deserts and facing fences.

[1] https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/11/sweden-should-step-efforts-fight-systemic-racism-un-mechanism-advance-racial

[2] https://www.europeaninterest.eu/article/un-warns-racism-rife-sweden/

[3] https://www.thelocal.se/20180612/new-report-highlights-attacks-on-39-swedish-mosques-in-2017/

[4] https://www.europeaninterest.eu/article/sweden-braces-staffing-shortages/

[5] https://www.thelocal.se/20230130/politics-in-sweden-the-migration-paradigm-shift-we-need-isnt-the-one-were-getting/

[6] https://www.thelocal.se/20230124/sweden-plans-international-campaign-to-promote-migration-paradigm-shift/

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