• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Sweden Dems 'delighted' at country tour protests

Ann Törnkvist · 7 Apr 2014, 13:13

Published: 07 Apr 2014 11:13 GMT+02:00
Updated: 07 Apr 2014 13:13 GMT+02:00

A small group of demonstrators showed up outside a run-of-the-mill fire station in Stockholm's Botkyrka last week. Why? To protest the work-place visit by Jimmie Åkesson. Then 250 staff at Lund University Hospital in Malmö told Åkesson in a public letter that they did not want him to visit. Death threats ensued. The incidents were just the latest in a string of controversies trailing Åkesson's ambitious tour.

"The Sweden Democrats are a running provocation to many people on the left of the spectrum, which in Sweden includes a lot of people, that these work place visits have been like a red rag to a bull," Södertörn University political scientist Nick Aylott told The Local.

READ ALSO: Why Sweden should cherish students who blocked Sweden Democrat youth wing visit

Åkesson, who plans to visit more than 50 work places across the country, began his tour in February. The party has said that it is focusing on municipalities run by Social Democrats, and the list revealed a focus on public sector work places.

It began quite mildly. In Örebro, Aftonbladet columnist Oisin Cantwell noted, reporters were mostly interested in asking questions about immigrants' role in staffing the welfare services of the future. Åkesson's tour kick-off was also overshadowed by allegations that he had lied about his youth in a recent television programme.

Since then, however, tough questions have morphed into tough receptions not only by reporters but by the very people with whom Åkesson has hoped to speak. 

"I would think the Sweden Democrats are absolutely delighted every time they face a protest," Aylott said. "It's grist to the mill of the Sweden Democrat self-image as martyrs."

Some of the protests have been rather messy.

In Umeå last month, a doctor stood in Åkesson's way when he tried to visit a geriatric care ward. Another staff member yelled "racist" at him. Two days later, fifteen healthcare staff told the county administrators in an op-ed that they were "ashamed" of them for letting Åkesson visit. They further claimed that both Åkesson's security police agents and the county security chief had threatened them when they held up anti-Sweden Democrat placards in reception. 

While images seeping through the TT picture agency's news feed has mostly showed a glum- or at least straight-faced Åkesson on tour, the protests may be playing to his advantage, Aylott noted.

"They present themselves as the only group that stands up against the elite consensus, against the progressives who run the country who conspire to suppress debate on the Sweden Democrats' favourite topics," he explained.

Story continues below…

The Umeå chief medical officer, Professor Yngve Gustafsson, has defended the staff's protest against Åkesson's visit. He told Sveriges Television that the Sweden Democrat position against subsidized healthcare to immigrants, who live in Sweden without the legal right to do so, contradicted the Hippocratic Oath. 

"The Sweden Democrats think we should report (the immigrants) to the police," Gustafson told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper. "That's making a difference between one patient to the next and breaches not only the healthcare law, but also doctor's ethical rules, and the county's equality principle." 

 The Sweden Democrats, however, have continuously defended their stance.

"Somewhere along the road, it becomes absurd to reward people who are in Sweden illegally by giving them lower healthcare costs than that offered to taxpayers, low income pensioners, and everyone who respects the law," the party's healthcare spokesperson Per Ramhorn wrote in an op-ed in the local Gefle Dagblad newspaper last year. 

Ann Törnkvist (ann.tornkvist@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Man jailed for six years for asylum home arson
The district court in Västmanland. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

A court in western Sweden has sentenced a 28-year-old asylum seeker to six years in jail for starting a fire at the asylum centre where he lived.

Volvo on hunt for 400 new engineers in Sweden
Want to help build one of these? Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

Want to work in Sweden?

Swedish hearts fail on Mondays and at Christmas
Tell me why I don't like Mondays. Photo: Marcus Lindblad/SvD/TT

July is Sweden's most heart-warming month.

Woman told she's not Swedish enough for a job
A sun bather wears a Swedish flag hat to celebrate National Day. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Sweden's discrimination watchdog is on the case.

Really hungry elk wreak havoc in Swedish forests
Om-nom-nom. Photo: AP Photo/Becky Bohrer

"It's an emergency situation."

Swedish hotels cash in on business travellers
Visitors are flocking to Malmö. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Business travellers have been flocking to city hotels in Malmö, Gothenburg and Stockholm this summer.

Opinion
'More men must stand up against abuse in Sweden'
Equality Minister Åsa Regnér. Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Sweden's equality minister Åsa Regnér on why the government is introducing a new strategy on male violence against women.

Swedes discover secret 150-metre-long cave
Per Bäckström on his way into the cave. Photo: Alexander Bennerstål/TT

They are believed to be the first people to venture into this hidden cave on the Baltic island of Gotland.

No arrests after boy's death in Gothenburg grenade attack
The scene at the apartment in Biskopsgården two days after the attack.Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

UPDATED: Almost 200 people paid their respects at the funeral of an eight-year-old boy killed in a Gothenburg grenade attack. But police told The Local they have yet to make any arrests in the case.

Swedish couple banned from owning animals kept 100 cats
Not the cats mentioned in the article. Photo: Drago Prvulovic/TT

Animal protection officers seized around 100 cats from the couple in Halland.

Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
National
How good is Sweden for expat life?
Sponsored Article
Why you should learn to trade (and just how easy it is)
Gallery
Property of the week: Landskrona, Skåne
Gallery
People-watching: August 26th-28th
Blog updates

23 August

A Summer in Sweden (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"For our first year here in Sweden we decided to have all our holidays in Sweden.…" READ »

 

22 July

After the horror, carry on regardless (Globally Local) »

"This time last week, we were just digesting the horror of the Nice killings, in which…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Travel
What are Sherpas doing on Sweden's highest mountain?
Sponsored Article
Malmö to host global skateboard championship
Gallery
People-watching: August 24th
The Local Voices
'I want to be a businesswoman but I don’t care about money'
National
Experts: Gothenburg grenade blast is 'part of a cycle of violence'
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
Gallery
Property of the week: Karlsborg
Sponsored Article
Five easy ways to travel more often
National
Why Sweden could change its criticised detention laws
National
Watch this dog's reaction when she tries Swedish fermented herring
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Gallery
People-watching: August 19th-21st
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
National
How to find student housing in Sweden
National
VIDEO: Swede films first Northern Lights of the season
Sponsored Article
The mystique of Asia - in the middle of Stockholm
Gallery
People-watching: August 17th
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Society
Swedish population nears ten million
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
The Local Voices
This Syrian artist found love in a Swedish library
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
Sex pigs halt traffic after laser attack on Pokémon teens. Only in Sweden.
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
Gallery
Property of the week: Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm
Society
Drunk knight detained in Stockholm
National
Can you solve this Swede's strange Star Wars mystery?
Gallery
People-watching: August 12th-14th
National
Swedes cheer first snow of the season
Gallery
People-watching: August 10th
The Local Voices
Gabriel mastered Swedish and got accepted onto a medicine degree in just 7 months
3,376
jobs available