Suecia

Durante la crisis epidémica, personas de mi considerable edad se han sentido profundamente humilladas con las brutales medidas de arresto domiciliario tomadas en sede parlamentaria por pueril asamblea de indoctos (dicen que avalados científicamente). Tan mezquinos son que más de uno quiere multar al expresidente Rajoy, al haber roto ejemplarmente, con cívica madurez, el aborrecido y nefasto confinamiento cuando lo que merece es ser homenajeado en España entera por los bien nacidos.

En cualquier epidemia, una sociedad democráticamente madura -libre de supersticiones y terrores infantiles que reclaman la protección asfixiante y liberticida del Estado- aun siendo intervencionista y amparadora de los desprotegidos antepone y estimula la responsabilidad personal.…  Seguir leyendo »

A sign outside a pub in Stockholm, 26 March 2020: ‘The weight of opinion laid emphasis on the view that Sweden was doing the right thing by refusing to engage in a mass lockdown.’ Photograph: Colm Fulton/Reuters

“Haverist” is a Swedish word meaning “shipwrecked person”. During the course of Sweden’s shambolic response to Covid-19, dissent – whether from epidemiologists or journalists – has often been met with this insult, which implies the critics are fighting a losing battle. It’s telling of the way Sweden has handled its failure.

Through a uniquely slack approach (seen by many as the largely debunked “herd immunity” approach, even if the government denies this), Sweden reached the highest Covid-19 deaths per capita in the world in May. It still circles around the top, with more than 5,200 deaths – five times as many as in Norway, Finland and Denmark combined.…  Seguir leyendo »

A restaurant in Stockholm last Friday. Credit Jonathan Nackstrand/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

It’s noon here, and from the window of my home office I can see my two daughters playing in the yard at their preschool across the street. I reach for my phone to text my best friend, a nurse who lives in Westport, Conn., to share some family trivia I just discovered. She has been hunkered down in her home with her husband and their two young daughters since March. She’s beginning to wonder what they will lose first — their jobs or their minds.

“Guess what my great-grandmother’s name was? Jósephina Corona. From Italy,” I write. Unlike my friend, I am not forced to stay at home.…  Seguir leyendo »

A makeshift memorial in Stockholm’s Mynttorget square remembers loved ones lost to coronavirus. Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP via Getty Images

Sweden has persisted with the strategy of coronavirus mitigation that the UK government eventually abandoned in March. The policy is widely supported by the public, even though the Swedish Covid-19 mortality rate is among the 10 highest in the world, at 240 per million population and steadily rising, and many of the nursing homes in Stockholm are now affected.

The typical explanation for this continued public support is that Swedes are trusting and unflappable. The country’s chief epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, the public face of the Swedish response to the pandemic, is after all a dry scientist-turned-bureaucrat, not some populist politician trying to whip up nationalist go-it-alone emotion.…  Seguir leyendo »

People walk at a market as the city of Malmo, Sweden, where fences reduce congestion at the stands on April 25. (Johan Nilsson/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

“Be like Sweden!” — this slogan appeared on a sign last weekend in Minnesota, one of several U.S. states where protesters are pushing governors to roll back lockdown orders. Sweden, unlike the United States and many other countries, has largely stayed open for business. Pandemic experts have criticized this approach, combining a handful of restrictions with strong recommendations for risk groups and anyone feeling sick to self-isolate, and voluntary social distancing for everyone else.

So why does Swedish public opinion continue to show not just high but increasing levels of support?

As of April 30, Sweden ranked among the 10 countries in the world with the highest covid-19 deaths per million people, with a ratio of 244.…  Seguir leyendo »

An older couple eat dinner while keeping distance from the rest of their family in Ostersund, Sweden. Photograph: David Lidstrom/Getty Images

That coronavirus is colour blind and respects no borders is true enough, although far from being the great equaliser, it forces the poor to bear the brunt. And given the prominent role played by experts in epidemiology who speak in a universalising language of objective science and mathematical curves, attempts at containing or mitigating the spread of Covid-19 sound similar around the world.

Yet the responses differ significantly from country to country, even among richer countries; shaped by historical legacies, political culture and social mores. The Swedish historian Sverker Sörlin, himself a Covid-19 survivor, noted in a recent article that there was never just one global pandemic but many, each shaped by its own national logic.…  Seguir leyendo »

La penosa verdad sobre el modelo sueco

¿La decisión de Suecia de rechazar un aislamiento nacional ofrece una manera distinta de combatir el COVID-19 manteniendo a la vez una sociedad abierta? La respuesta poco ortodoxa del país al coronavirus es popular fronteras adentro y ha recibido elogios en algunos lugares del mundo. Pero también ha contribuido a una de las tasas más altas de mortalidad por COVID-19 del mundo, superando la de Estados Unidos.

En Estocolmo, los bares y restaurantes están llenos de gente que disfruta del sol de primavera después de un invierno largo y oscuro. Las escuelas y los gimnasios están abiertos. Las autoridades suecas han ofrecido consejos de salud pública, pero han impuesto pocas sanciones.…  Seguir leyendo »

Samedi dernier dans un parc de Stockholm. Photo Andres Kudacki. AP

Dans un monde en quarantaine où quelque 4 milliards d’êtres humains sont désormais tenus dans une variante de confinement plus ou moins stricte, la situation de la Suède n’a pas manqué d’interpeller, voire de scandaliser. Voici un pays où la plupart des services et commerces, écoles, crèches, restaurants et bars restent ouverts alors que le printemps arrive et incite aux excursions. Tout juste vient-on de décider d’en terminer avec la saison de ski, qui s’étend habituellement jusqu’à la fin avril.

Mais ce tableau ne serait pas complet si on ne mentionnait pas que les lycées et universités ont été fermés depuis plusieurs semaines, que les personnes âgées et à risque sont bien entendu invitées à limiter leurs contacts, en particulier dans les lieux d’hébergement collectif et que, comme ailleurs, on recommande de prêter la plus grande attention aux gestes barrières, tout en évitant de voyager à l’intérieur du pays au temps des fêtes de Pâques.…  Seguir leyendo »

A couple kiss at a park in Stockholm on April 4. (Andres Kudacki/AP)

With large parts of Europe in lockdown in response to the covid-19 pandemic, one country stands out: Sweden has no mandatory quarantines and few limitations on free movement. Elementary schools remain open; malls, gyms and shopping streets are far from empty.

This is not to say that things are as usual –– mobility has declined considerably in Sweden, although still less than in other European Union countries. But even as provisional intensive care units –– and makeshift morgues –– have been set up in the Swedish capital, and the government is considering stricter measures, some sidewalk cafes are still bustling with life.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ambiente en una terraza del centro de Estocolmo el 26 de marzo de 2020. EPA-EFE/Janerik Henriksson

Cada vez más médicos y científicos suecos están llamando la atención sobre el enfoque del Gobierno del país escandinavo respecto a la COVID-19. Al contrario que sus vecinos nórdicos, Suecia ha decidido adoptar una estrategia relativamente laxa con la que parece lanzar el mensaje de que es mejor quedarse corto que pasarse.

Si bien el Gobierno sueco ha prohibido las reuniones de más de 50 personas, lugares como los colegios, los restaurantes y los gimnasios están exentos de dicha prohibición, por lo que permanecen abiertos a pesar de que Suecia registra más de seis mil positivos, el doble que hace una semana.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nordic Resistance marchers confronted by leftwing activists in Borlange, Sweden, 1 May 2016. Photograph: AP

I was born in Turkey and am now based in Lund, on the southern tip of Sweden. Most of my life I’ve probably been the quintessential cosmopolitan, and proudly so. But I’ve also spent too many hours in the consulates and airports of various EU countries coveting a multiple-entry Schengen visa, or enduring the suspicious looks of customs officers, to believe that I could be a “citizen of nowhere” with a Turkish passport.

My cosmopolitanism was more a moral ideal based on compassion, and did not preclude a yearning for belonging or roots. It simply defined them in a different way.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tras desembarcar en puertos del oeste de Suecia, destacamentos militares de varios países de la OTAN llenan las calles suecas, lo que obligó a la policía a emitir alertas de tránsito. Van camino a Noruega, donde unos 50 000 soldados, aviadores y marinos se reunirán en el mayor ejercicio militar de la OTAN en años. La operación, bautizada Trident Juncture, tiene un objetivo claro: demostrar la capacidad de la alianza para defender a Noruega de un agresor extranjero.

No hace falta nombrar al potencial agresor. Obviamente no es Suecia ni Finlandia (que contribuyeron soldados para el ejercicio). Durante la Guerra Fría, hubo ocasiones en que Finlandia estuvo bajo presión soviética, cada vez que el Kremlin intentó aumentar su espacio de maniobra; pero siempre se mantuvo firme en su compromiso de defender su identidad nórdica y occidental.…  Seguir leyendo »

Agnes Ester, the author’s great-grandmother, was among the million Swedes who set sail for the United States in the early 1900s.CreditCreditMaud Cordenius

I was nursing my daughter in our home here when I learned that the nationalist Sweden Democrats captured 17.5 percent of the vote in parliamentary elections last month. Since neither the traditional left or right blocs won a majority, the Sweden Democrats, with roots in the neo-Nazi movement, hold the balance of power.

In the days leading up to the election I received racist propaganda in my mailbox from a more extreme right party that said of immigrants, “Time to go home.”

It made me reflect on the women in my family and our own history of migration.

In the early 1900s, Sweden was a country you migrated from, not to.…  Seguir leyendo »

In Sweden’s general election on Sept. 9, voters reduced the power of the center-left and center-right parties — while boosting that of a populist, far-right, anti-immigrant party. The election has gotten an unusual amount of international attention for a country of only 10 million.

So what happened, and why does it matter?

Voters across Europe are abandoning traditional parties — resulting in unstable governments.

Long viewed as an island of democratic stability, Sweden has finally succumbed to the electoral instability that’s been sweeping Europe. Here’s how stable it was: The center-left Social Democratic Party (SAP) led governments from the 1930s through the 1970s.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los presuntos guardianes de Suecia

Poco antes de las elecciones del domingo y el extraordinario avance del partido de extrema derecha Demócratas Suecos, la comunidad internacional descubrió una realidad incómoda: ni siquiera una sociedad tan progresista como la de Suecia es inmune al odio y a la intolerancia. Tal vez algún politólogo dé con una fórmula para conocer la relación entre los niveles de inmigración y el ascenso del populismo nacionalista. Suecia, desde luego, tiene el mayor número de inmigrantes por habitante de toda Europa. Pero es bien sabido que algunos países, en particular los del grupo de Visegrado, en Europa del Este, están apoyando lo que el líder húngaro Viktor Orbán llama “democracia iliberal” sin haber convivido nunca con la inmigración.…  Seguir leyendo »

Election workers in Stockholm unload posters featuring Ulf Kristersson, the chairman of Sweden’s Moderate Party, outside party headquarters on Monday. (Christine Olsson/TT News Agency/AP)

In the strange world of the online alt-right, Sweden has long played a special role. This isn’t because of its economic strength (small but robust), or because of its population (just less than 10 million). This is because — how shall I put this delicately? — Swedes are blond.

Never mind that many aren’t: In the dismal fever swamps of the Internet, Swedes now symbolize Blondness and Whiteness for a whole host of people — American, European, Russian — who use that symbolism to tell a particular story: Blondness Under Siege. Whiteness Under Siege. Alt-right headlines such as “How Sweden is Committing Suicide Through Political Correctness” draw long chains of vicious and vulgar commentary.…  Seguir leyendo »

Why a far-right party with white supremacist roots is on the rise — in Sweden-3

On Sunday, voters went to the polls in Sweden. The result confirmed what the polls had forecast: a record high for the national populist Sweden Democrats, a party rooted in white supremacism that wants to reduce the number of immigrants and refugees and hold a referendum on membership in the European Union. As the last votes are being counted, the party has surpassed 17 percent, its highest vote share on record.

This was accompanied by sharp losses for the two big mainstream parties as Sweden’s party system fragments. Since the 1970s, the center-left Social Democrats and the center-right Moderates have regularly won more than 60 percent of the vote.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hundreds of Sweden Democrats supporters and left-wing protesters gather in Gothenburg last month. National and local elections are set for Sunday. (Nora Lorek for The Washington Post)

On Sunday, Sweden will vote in a much-anticipated national election. Public opinion polls suggest that the extreme-right Sweden Democrats are likely to increase their vote share over the 13 percent they received in 2014.

As the election approaches, supporters of this populist, anti-immigrant, anti-European Union, far-right party are energized. Critics of this movement are nervous. The modern trend of radicalism is not specific to Sweden, of course. But the run-up to the Swedish election again raises the big question: Why is right-wing populism on the rise in advanced democracies?

Immigration anxiety plays a role

Many experts point to the role of people’s views on immigration in motivating voter support for radical-right parties in Europe.…  Seguir leyendo »

Campaign posters in Stockholm this week. Sweden will hold elections on Sunday.CreditCreditJonathan Nackstrand/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

To understand why Sweden, a bastion of social democracy, might end up with a far-right party in government after national elections on Sunday, you need to take a walk with Ahmed Abdirahman.

An American-educated Somali immigrant who works as a policy analyst at the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Abdirahman grew up and now lives in the suburb of Rinkeby-Tensta, where some 90 percent of residents have a foreign background, roughly 80 percent live on welfare or earn low incomes and 42 percent are under age 25. It is a violent place: Sixteen people were killed there in 2016, mostly in drug-related conflicts, an unheard-of number in this typically peaceful country.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hogs are raised on Duncan Farms on June 6 near Polo, Ill. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The “story” was classic Politically-Correct-Sweden-Gone-Nuts material.

The organizers of the largest youth soccer tournament in the world, the Gothia Cup held in Gothenburg, Sweden, had decreed that pork was “haram” (forbidden by the Muslim faith). Thus, pork would be “banned” from being served to players and coaches at the tournament, scheduled to begin July 15.  The reaction from far-right, anti-immigration clusters on social media was quick and predictable. It was was yet another example of Sweden’s capitulation to “Islamic values” and further evidence of how Muslims simply cannot “integrate” into modern Western society, thus forcing Christian Europeans to give up their cultural heritage.…  Seguir leyendo »