Elections in Sweden: how to tackle violence?
Sweden will hold parliamentary elections as well as regional and municipal elections on Sunday. Key campaign issues are social problems and a lack of integration which has been widely blamed for the country's growing violence, gang crime and fatal shooting sprees. Commentators in Northern Europe are concerned.
An unbearable atmosphere
Expressen reports that especially in the suburbs, the epicentres of gang crime, residents are demanding a crackdown:
“Above all, it's about tougher sentences and more deportations. Many find it hard to understand why so few are deported even when the law allows it. The low solve rate for gang murders is another frightening factor. The awareness that murderers are on the loose in residential areas spreads fear and terror. After eight years in power, the government sounds almost resigned when its ministers suddenly start talking about leaving no stone unturned. After all, under what boulder can solutions be found when children are being shot by other children in playgrounds?”
Once good, now seen as bad
It is primarily migrants who suffer from gang crime, Helsingin Sanomat points out:
“In principle, Swedes have a positive attitude towards immigrants. Immigration has in many ways had a positive impact on demographics, the labour force, the creation of new businesses and economic growth, which has been much better in Sweden than in Finland. However, immigration has increased so much in recent years that it is reaching overload for the Swedes. The immigration debate is difficult in Sweden because it easily turns into racism that stigmatises all migrants. However, gang violence does not divide the population into light and dark, as it is mainly other immigrants who suffer.”
Inflation and integration pose challenges
Jyllands-Posten sees the need for solutions to the growing social problems in the neighbouring country:
“Whoever forms the government will encounter a different Sweden after 11 September, one whose problems are no less than those of comparable countries, and indeed even greater. Finding an effective way to tackle immigration-related crime will be a long and difficult path. Sweden is a prosperous country with a solid economic foundation, including energy supplies from nuclear and hydroelectric power. But like other countries it is suffering from inflation, which hits pensioners hardest. And integration problems take up a good part of the public finances, even if you don't want to do the maths.”