Suecia

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 »

Illustration artwork found on the Internet showing Fancy Bear. Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Con la elección general en el horizonte en septiembre, los votantes suecos están siendo advertidos de que les ha llegado el turno a ellos de ser el blanco de una interferencia rusa en el proceso democrático. Según la Agencia de Contingencias Civiles de Suecia (MSB por su sigla en inglés), que lidera los esfuerzos del país para contrarrestar las operaciones de influencia extranjera, esa interferencia es muy probable, y los ciudadanos deberían estar alertas a la desinformación y las noticias falsas.

Hay un solo problema: separar las “mentiras” rusas de la realidad política desordenada de Suecia no será tarea fácil.

En los últimos meses, los troles rusos pusieron a los suecos en la mira, distribuyendo historias creíbles y rumores con mucha carga política sobre un malestar social y una decadencia moral.…  Seguir leyendo »

Moises Saman/Magnum Photos Young refugees baking Christmas cookies with Swedish volunteers at a transit center for unaccompanied asylum seekers in Malmö, Sweden, 2015

For an event at which the main attraction was the presence of not one but two heirs to European thrones, the security at Stockholm’s Fotografiska museum was distinctly low-key. Distinctly Swedish, you might say.

And when the royalty swept into the room, the conversation barely wavered. One Swedish woman wondered aloud if she should say anything special to Prince William, visiting from Britain. “No, just be yourself,” her colleague replied. In this land of equality, even future kings and queens of other countries are treated with polite equanimity. Indeed, the only gushing came from Prince William himself, taking the stage to thank his hosts, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, and explaining that he and his wife came to discover the “magic Swedish ingredients.”

“We wanted to find out what it was about Sweden that gave you such an enviable reputation in the world: design, the creative industries, high-tech manufacturing, social justice, popular culture,” Prince William said, sending a palpable shiver of satisfaction through the two hundred assorted representatives of Sweden’s cultural scene.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the immediate aftermath of President Trump’s announcement to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Sweden was shocked by two serious cases of horrible crimes against Jews. In Gothenburg, Molotov cocktails were thrown against a synagogue. In the town of Malmö, marchers during a protest made explicit threats to murder Jews.

These events were condemned by Swedish parliament leaders and the prime minister as well as Muslim leaders of our country.

The suspects in the crimes in both Gothenburg and Malmö are all refugees from conflict-torn parts of the Middle East. Too often we have seen that some refugees bring with them not only anti-Israel but also anti-Semitic views that they have been indoctrinated with in the countries they have been forced to flee.…  Seguir leyendo »

Police arriving after a synagogue was attacked in a failed arson attempt in Gothenburg, Sweden, on December 9, 2017. Credit Adam Ihse/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

This past Saturday, a Hanukkah party at a synagogue in Goteborg, Sweden, was abruptly interrupted by Molotov cocktails. They were hurled by a gang of men in masks at the Jews, mostly teenagers, who had gathered to celebrate the holiday.

Two days later, two fire bombs were discovered outside the Jewish burial chapel in the southern Swedish city of Malmo.

Who knows what tomorrow may bring?

For Sweden’s 18,000 Jews, sadly, none of this comes as a surprise. They are by now used to anti-Semitic threats and attacks — especially during periods of unrest in the Middle East, which provide cover to those whose actual goal has little to do with Israel and much to do with harming Jews.…  Seguir leyendo »

A #MeToo rally in Stockholm in October. Credit Hans Christiansson

Cissi Wallin was sitting in a TriBeCa diner this October when she first saw the story on Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual assaults and harassment of women. An actor and writer based in Stockholm, the 32-year-old Ms. Wallin had come to Manhattan on vacation with her husband and toddler son, and as she kept on reading, she silently asked herself:

“What if people would believe me now?”

Ms. Wallin had filed a police report in 2011, a few years after she was sexually assaulted only to see it dismissed within weeks. This time she decided to do something different: She put the name of a well-known columnist for Sweden’s largest left-wing tabloid newspaper on her Instagram page, alongside a statement saying he had drugged and violently raped her in Stockholm more than a decade ago.…  Seguir leyendo »

Quand s’arrête la liberté d’expression et où commence l’incitation à la haine raciale ? La question est d’autant plus épineuse en Suède qu’elle est posée par une mouvance néonazie, l’organisation Nordiska Motstandsrorelsen (NMR, Mouvement de la résistance nordique). Samedi 30 septembre, ses militants, qui manifestaient en marge du Salon du livre de Göteborg, ont été neutralisés par plusieurs milliers de contre-manifestants et la plus grosse mobilisation policière depuis 2001.

Mais le débat n’est pas près de finir. Car l’organisation, créée en 1997, n’a beau compter que quelques centaines de militants, elle a réussi, ces derniers mois, à multiplier les actions lui permettant d’accroître sa visibilité sur la scène publique et à rassembler une mouvance jusque-là fragmentée en plusieurs formations concurrentes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Le Danemark s’isole-t-il de plus en plus via sa politique anti- immigration ? Le 12 avril, Inger Støjberg, sa ministre de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration, annonçait au Jyllands-Posten, un des principaux quotidiens conservateurs du pays, sa volonté de rétablir les contrôles à ses frontières avec la Suède. Cette déclaration survenait peu après l’attentat perpétré à Stockholm par un Ouzbek qui avait vu sa demande d’asile refusée. Objectif du gouvernement : protéger le Danemark de l’éventuel retour d’autres migrants illégaux venant de Suède où ils sont estimés à 12 000, selon les autorités.

Cette décision s’inscrit dans un contexte tendu au Danemark depuis les élections législatives de juin 2015.…  Seguir leyendo »

It was the early 1990s. I was prime minister of Sweden and near Christmas I was visiting our soldiers serving with the United Nations peacekeeping operation in Croatia. War was raging in Bosnia, and so I ventured down to the bridge on the border between the two countries. Bus after bus with desperate refugees was crossing over. The ethnic cleansing of western Bosnia was in its final stages.

At home we struggled with both an economic crisis and a more massive influx of refugees than we had ever had. One year brought in about 100,000 women, children and men fleeing the carnage of the Balkans.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mis cuatro felices años como embajador de España en Suecia me han convertido en privilegiado observador del buen funcionamiento de las estructuras democráticas de este histórico Reino. Por ello, me pude animar a escribir, en esta misma Tribuna, sobre las características que garantizan la viabilidad de este Estado de bienestar tan reputado. En otros medios comenté la evolución de la generosa política sueca en lo que tiene que ver con el refugio y el asilo, y las necesarias adaptaciones al excesivo flujo de inmigrantes.

A punto de cesar en este destino, pues en breve el esperado nuevo Gobierno nombrará a mi sucesor, no querría dejar en el tintero uno de los sucesos políticos que más admiré, y que recuerdo en el título de estas reflexiones.…  Seguir leyendo »

Este primer ministro, Stefan Löfven, adoptado de niño por una familia humilde del norte del país, político atípico formado en el sindicalismo y ejemplo de valores morales dentro de la socialdemocracia, ha hecho un reciente llamamiento a la «Defensa del Estado del bienestar sueco».

Por otro lado, políticos de la oposición, analistas y periodistas consideran que el fenómeno de los refugiados terminará echando por tierra este modelo inspirado en valores de estricta igualdad.

Procede recordar que la crisis financiera vivida por Suecia en los 90 exigió a los gobiernos de entonces, primero de centro-derecha con Carl Bildt y luego de centro-izquierda con Persson, duras medidas de consolidación fiscal y reformas estructurales para poder ajustar el inviable déficit público generado, llegando a consensuar la necesidad de mantener un superávit del 1 por ciento anual en futuros presupuestos para reducir la deuda.…  Seguir leyendo »