Swedish Tidbits

Nobody has stepped up to write a big piece for us on the Swedish election, which is bound to be close, but below the fold are a few potential topics from our internal discussion. Bullet points for that party conversation you’re bound to have this weekend about the election in Sweden. (And if anyone from the afoe team does write a post, or objects to publishing the bits, feel free to take this post down.)

New conservtive leader went to the left, anticipating Cameron, like
their hayekian turn anticipated Thatcher by a few years, I think.
Int’l trend, or not? Plus some fun absurdities.

How the oc dems are becomingmore a normal party, but mostly in a bad way.

The interestingly unpleasant Göran Persson.

The lack of anti immigrant sentiment.

Why the liberals still flirt mildly w/ xenophobic voters.

Big scandal. Liberals read the soc dem intranet for years. Illegal.
Broke just a week ago.

Left party actually being a bit hurt by not disavowing leninism properly.

The pirate party?

6 thoughts on “Swedish Tidbits

  1. Immigration in Sweden is the elephant in the room nobody talks about. If the mainstream parties don’t address the issue, they will create a niche for an extremist anti-immigration party.

  2. Yup. I spent six weeks travelling there this summer and was surprised at the degree of racism among old friends. The neofascist party is showing around 2.8% in some polls, which suggests it might get a seat on the south-eastern counry of Blekinge.

    FWIW, the Swedish “Hayekian turn” did not anticipate Thatcher at all. I was living there when Thatcher came to power. They thought she was completely beyond the pale.

    Pirate party’s a joke. More members than the Greens, though.

  3. Re immigration, that was “fixed” 12 years ago. Nobody can immigrate to Sweden (unfortunately, in my mind), with a few rare exceptions . Maybe you confuse this with the EU debate.

    Must agree with Andrew Brown with the Hayekian turn. The conservative party gained by going neo-liberal in the 70:ies but hit a wall at 20% electorate support. The best way to lose an election in Sweden is to propose something that may threaten the welfare-state (like tax-cuts).

  4. I don’t know about Swedish racism being so high. Being a Swede of Moroccan extraction, and having lived in France and Belgium among others (as well as in Alby, a Stockholm suburb famous for its 90% foreign population), I am not sure that racism in Sweden, certainly a larger problem than the poll figures for SD intimate, is as vivid as in these two countries.

    I a am not sure however that a breakthrough for a racist party is in the offing. The last experience Swedes had with such a party – Ny demokrati – ended in tears for those involved. The human material at SD’s disposal is abysmal. An interview with their Leader, Jimmie
    Aakesson, published in Svenska Dagbladet a few days ago, provided a hilarious insight in the vacuity of their thinking on matters other than immigration. They will however be dangerous the day they find a Filip Dewinter or a Jean-Marie Le Pen.

    One oddity of Swedish politics has however been the implicit consensus between the two largest parties, the Social Democrats and the Moderates (right-wing), on having strict immigration laws. The smaller parties, whether they be on the left or on the right, have traditionally been substantially more liberal on this issue, only to find themselves voted down in the Riksdag on such issues. The flirtation of the liberal People’s party with xenophobia has been changing things, especially in the light of how successful that move was during the latest elections. This issue has however split the liberal party, which will in all certainty recede substantially from its latest electoral score.

    I would therefore be more nuanced on the racism issue in Swedish politics. I certainly hope that Sweden will stay out of the xenophobic streak present in Denmark, Norway and so many other European countries. Long live the Swedish exception!

  5. “Nobody can immigrate to Sweden (unfortunately, in my mind), with a few rare exceptions.”

    It is interesting here to note the differences across the EU on this. The UK is basically supplying its migrant needs with people from the new member states that others didn’t seem to want. But the other big difference is between Southern Europe and the Scandinavian countries.

    In the South I think people are much more aware that they need migrants because of their population structure and sustainability problems. So there is more acceptance of migration (also it is a more recent phenomenon).

    At the same time they have much more extensive informal economies and much less well developed welfare systems. This means that a lot of migrants enter on an ‘irregular basis’ (the US model really), and then later are regularised.

    I remember visiting David in Sweden last September and seeing a demonstration of ‘assylum seekers’. I asked if they were working, and David indicated that largely they weren’t since this was not permitted. So effectively they were being paid for by the receiving society. This makes it very difficult to convince people of the virtue in having migrants.

    This situation would be impossible in Spain. As I indicate in the Senegal post, virtually no-one is repatriated (only if you commit an offence or something) and those coming through the Canary islands are often flown to the mainland and then turned loose on the street, with everyone knowing that the only way they can survive is to work.

    This is why employers complain, because OTOH they are being expected to offer employment to such people – otherwise they would evidently starve – and yet at the same time they risk sanctions if they are found to be employing them. However, the law relating to work regulations, as in many cases here (anti-tobacco in bars, health and safety at work) is applied ‘flexibly’.

    All this does have advantages though, since the local population see the dircet benefits of migration immediately, and this helps offset resistance.

    Also the South has gone for a low skill model of migration, which again makes sense to me, since this is bound to cause less resentment than large scale skilled migration and encouraging the locals to take badly paid, dirty jobs. The best approach on this I think is to encourage the low skilled migrants, and use the taxes they pay to improve the education and training of the local population so they can move up the value chain. I think this is then very win-win.

    It is also noticeable in Italy that Prodi has a proposal to allow regularised migrants to apply for citizenship after five years (in Italy at present they have to wait ten). I think all of this is a good model: relatively easy access for all who can find work, ‘fluid contracts’ in the first couple of years, residence renewable automatically for those who remain employed for up to five years, and then citizenship rights thereafter.

  6. “Re immigration, that was “fixed” 12 years ago.”

    Looking at the population stats this doesn’t seem to be quite true. In 2006 the number of migrants moving into Sweden seems to have risen by 50% or so over 2005:

    http://www.scb.se/templates/tableOrChart____25891.asp

    and if you look at this table you will see that the proportion per 1,000 seems to be been fairly constant over the years:

    http://www.scb.se/templates/tableOrChart____26041.asp

    As far as I can see people from Denmark now actually move to live in Sweden. Which raises of course the obvious question: has there been a shift in migration into Sweden towards migrants from other EU states. Probably. This article seems to be a good summary:

    http://www.migrationinformation.org/Profiles/display.cfm?ID=406