Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sweden Sees Backlash Against Open Immigration Policies

You think?

At New York Times, "
In Sweden, Immigration Policies Begin to Rankle":
MALMO, Sweden — Nick Nilsson, 46, decided to vote for Sweden’s far-right party last fall because of a growing sense that his country had gone too far in letting so many immigrants settle here.

A truck driver, Mr. Nilsson lives a half mile from the Rosengard section of this city, where dreary apartment buildings are jammed with refugees from virtually all the world’s recent conflicts: Iranians, Bosnians, Palestinians, Somalis, Iraqis.

“No one has a job over there,” Mr. Nilsson said recently. “They are shooting at each other. There are drugs. They burn cars. Enough is enough.”

For a time, Sweden seemed immune to the kind of anti-immigrant sentiment blossoming elsewhere on the European continent. Its generous welfare and asylum policies have allowed hundreds of thousands of refugees to settle here, many in recent years from Muslim countries. Nearly a quarter of Sweden’s population is now foreign born or has a foreign-born parent.

But increasingly, Swedes are questioning these policies. Last fall, the far-right party — campaigning largely on an anti-immigration theme — won 6 percent of the vote and, for the first time, enough support to be seated in the Swedish Parliament.

Six months later, many Swedes are still in shock. The country — proud of its reputation for tolerance — can no longer say it stands apart from the growing anti-immigrant sentiment that has changed European parliaments elsewhere, leading to the banning of burqas in France and minarets in Switzerland.

In Malmo, a rapidly gentrifying port city in Sweden’s south, support for the far-right Sweden Democrats was particularly strong, about 10 percent of the vote. It is a place where tensions over immigration are on full display.

The city’s mayor, Ilmar Reepalu, a Social Democrat, ran his hands over a city map in his office, pointing out working-class neighborhoods like Mr. Nilsson’s that voted heavily for the Sweden Democrats, as might be expected, he said. But he could point to wealthier neighborhoods, too, that produced support for the far right as never before.

“We must dig deeper to understand that,” he said quietly.
There's more at the link, but really? Dig deeper? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that North African and Middle Eastern immigration is straining the Swedish political culture and stressing the melting pot ethic of the socially progressive Swedes. And tack on high unemployment and the social disintegration that comes with it, and what's the mystery? What's going to be a bit more challenging to explain is how an essentially leftist social services regime will be able to accommodate the increasing influence of rightist parties not particularly hostile to fascist doctrines and exclusionist solutions the national crisis. It's not going to fall neatly into the "racist" framework, since too many citizens of a more tolerant persuasion will also be throwing up their hands. The best that can be hoped for is that economic growth remains robust in Sweden and elsewhere, although given the vote in Ireland this weekend it's still going to be a while for economic prosperity --- however modest --- to take some of the pressure off. Not only that, some folks argue that Europe's already given itself over to immigrants from the less developed world, and Islamization itself. Depending on your perspective, that will hardly be good for the preservation of the Western ideal.


Bruce Hall said...

The NYT, as usual, is first to report the obvious... last.