Swedish parliamentary elections are coming up this Sunday. Stockholm was filled with pr-friendly one-liners and symbolic pictures of strong leaders. On my way to a meeting I saw our environmental minister stand alone in the drizzle outside Hilton Slussen, passing out fliers in his Donald Trump like hair that swirled in the breeze. The following day an all star line-up of Social Democrats, with former prime minister Göran Persson taking down the biggest applauds, stood together with the leader for largest Swedish Union in the central station claiming that they were the only workers party (a slogan the decidedly much more pr-savvy right-center Moderaterna took in a very sassy move for being Swedish politics). Finally, outside a large department store, former Kristian Democratic leader Alf Svensson stood next to a long haired saxophone player who played a tired version of ‘Bridge over troubled water’ in front of an aging looking crowd.
Yesterday, when I battled the subway crowds with my cold and burning forehead, large demonstrations were held against the anti-immigrant party, Sverigedemokraterna, which will probably make it into the government in this election. I thought about the Iraqi cab driver I sat next to a week ago today, when the rain was hammering the dark road from Landvetter Airport. I looked out the window at the dark and wet landscape and asked him if he didn’t think Sweden was a bit dark and boring? ‘No, Sweden is very good’ he said with a serious voice ‘in Baghdad I left home everyday not knowing if I would make it back, you cannot understand, there is nothing, no water, electricity, you cannot trust anything.’ Then he was quiet as we rolled down the hills towards the city. I felt proud to be from a country with such an abundance of space and wealth that we can give people new chances.
As one of the leaders from the environmental party (Miljöpartiet) said in a speech on tv: ‘Throughout history the societies that have been open to immigration and mixing different cultures have been the most successful ones’. I hope Sweden can continue to be an open society, that help people who fear for their lives due to undemocratic regimes or wars.
The Radio Dept. made a song about the election and the anti-immigration tendencies in the current political climate. You can hear it above or download it through this link