EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy

Debunking the right-wing myths about Sweden

Ever since Donald Trump mentioned a non-existent incident in Sweden, alluding to the country’s alleged troubles caused by influx of Muslim migrants, Sweden has been the focus of international media attention. However, even before Trump, Sweden was often described as a symbol of the failures of immigration by the European right wing. Both within Europe and abroad, the right wing has held Sweden up as an emblem of the failures of multiculturalism, a country at the precipice of total dissolution, vindicating their own brand of nationalist populism. Within Europe, Hungary and Poland has been the most vocal in this regard. Now, both are empowered by a rambling President Trump, who spreads misinformation and rely on obscure ex-convicts as “national experts” in a feeble attempt to justify his antics.

Reality in Sweden is, however, different.

As much as the autocracies Hungary and Poland, and the Divided States of America, personified by triumvirate of tin-pot conspiracy theorists Orban, Kaczyński and Trump, would wish for Sweden’s imminent collapse by migrants to vindicate their stunted worldview, reality in Sweden is less dire, even though it is not without problems. Thanks to the Swedish public records and government, it is easy to examine the data that disproves the debacle that Trump has started.

Looking at crime against persons in Swedish cities, according to the country’s official criminal records, an overall decrease in major cities can be observed, while the overall crime remains lower than in 2014, which was before the primary influx of migrants to Sweden.

Crime Rates Sweden 3 largest cities

Secondly, one of the myths often invoked when the far/Alt-Right mentions Sweden is property damage; arson, destruction etc. As is evident from the public records on crime, property crime has gone down in Malmö, which is traditionally touted as an apocalyptic hellhole by the right wing, similar to how it has overall decreased. It has, however, increased in Stockholm and Göteborg, but the overall levels are lower than in 2008.

Property Crime Sweden

Lastly, the levels of homicides remains lower than in the 80’s and 90’s, having steadily decreased with few notable fluctuations.

Homicides Sweden

These publicly recorded statistics spanning decades correspond with a recent statement by the Swedish government designed to clarify the misinformation surrounding Sweden. It states that since the 1990s, where the number of migrants has steadily increased, exposure to violent crimes has decreased. While a recent increase in homicides was reported in 2015, the police has linked it to an ongoing drug war.

As for rapes, Sweden has broadened its definitions of rape in recent years, which covers many acts not considered rape in other countries. Irrespective of whether or not one would agree with Sweden’s definitions of rape, the influx of migrants have had little to no impact on it.

Lastly, let me preempt the expected nonsense that “someone” – be it media, authorities, politicians or all of the above – are covering it up due to an obscure, hidden agenda or conspiracy, which everyone are apparently in on.

The world is not a web of conspiracies designed to obfuscate.

Regardless of one’s agenda, Sweden is undeniably doing well economically; it is expected to have solid financial surpluses years ahead despite massive influx of migrants and their associated integrational costs.

Sweden has one of the highest growth rates in Europe. Youth unemployment is lower than before the financial crisis. Sweden’s long-term unemployment rate (12+ months) is the lowest in the entire EU.

Sweden, as one of the few European countries, has truly fulfilled its obligations both as an EU member state and as a beacon for human rights. It has married opportunity – replenishing its aging demography in order to sustain its welfare state and the welfare of its aging citizens – with solidarity and its aforementioned obligations.

Most importantly, it has maintained a calm, realistic view on migrants compared to the cacophony of protests exhibited by the V4 countries; it is estimated that there are a few hundred thousand people in Sweden whose roots are in predominantly Muslim countries. The Muslim faith communities have approximately 140 000 members. This is about 1.5 per cent of Sweden’s population. The largest faith communities are the Church of Sweden, the Pentecostal Movement and the Roman Catholic Church. Of Sweden’s ten million inhabitants, 6.2 million are members of the Church of Sweden.

Sweden is not without problems, but a healthy dose of realism would vastly improve the quality of the debate. It clings hollow when autocracies such as Hungary, suffering from endemic corruption and governmental inefficiency, points fingers at Sweden for showing solidarity.

Christian Kvorning Lassen


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