• Sweden's news in English
 

Sweden Dems 'delighted' at country tour protests

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.

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
Swedish police officers praised by New Yorkers
The Swedish police heroes meet with NYPD heads. Photo: New York Police Department/TT

Swedish police officers praised by New Yorkers

A video has emerged of Swedish off-duty police officers breaking up a violent fight on the New York subway. READ  

Eighth happiest: why are the Swedes not pleased?
Swedes are the eighth happiest people in the world. Photo: Susanne Walström/imagebank.sweden.se

Eighth happiest: why are the Swedes not pleased?

Sweden is the eighth happiest country in the world, according to the UN. But the result has not gone down well in the Nordic country. The Local caught up with an expert to find out why. READ  

Löfven: Palestine move was done by the book
Stefan Löfven gets a grilling from the powerful Constitutional Affairs Committee of the Swedish parliament. Photo. Henrik Montgomery/Scanpix

Löfven: Palestine move was done by the book

Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has denied that he bypassed parliament when the country recognized Palestine last year. READ  

Early summer sweeps in across much of Sweden
Swedes enjoying the sunshine in Stockholm. Photo: The Local

Early summer sweeps in across much of Sweden

Get the barbeque out and your swim suit ready – summer is here. In fact, western and parts of central Sweden have been able to enjoy the year's warmest season for the past seven days. READ  

Defence giant Saab sees surprise fall in profits
Saab chief executive Håkan Buskhe at a press conference on Friday. Photo: Sören Andersson/TT

Defence giant Saab sees surprise fall in profits

Swedish defence giant Saab announced a surprise drop in first-quarter operating profits on Friday, while the company took a 3.8 percent tumble on the Stockholm stock market. READ  

Need more space? Check out Sweden's priciest flat
An artist's impression of the sitting room of Sweden's most expensive apartment. Image: Sivkraft

Need more space? Check out Sweden's priciest flat

Is money burning a hole in your pocket? Sweden's most expensive apartment in history could help you offload some cash. READ  

Thieves crash loader into store in Stockholm raid
Thieves crashed a loader through the walls of a Swedish electronics store. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

Thieves crash loader into store in Stockholm raid

Swedish police are investigating after thieves carried out an advanced smash and grab heist on an electronics store in Stockholm on Friday morning. READ  

The Local Recipes
How to make Swedish strawberry cream cake
Strawberry cream cake is a Swedish favourite. Photo: John Duxbury

How to make Swedish strawberry cream cake

As the first strawberries of the season went on sale in southern Sweden this week for a whopping 894 kronor ($103) a box, we bring you this timely recipe for traditional Swedish strawberry cream cake by food writer John Duxbury. READ  

Sweden telecom network 'vulnerable to attack'
Swedish landlines could be vulnerable to hacking, according to newspaper Dagens Nyheter. Photo: Lars Pehrson/SvD/SCANPIX

Sweden telecom network 'vulnerable to attack'

Outsourcing and serious security flaws by external suppliers could leave Sweden's telecommunications network open to attack – and make it easier for foreign powers to tap into them unnoticed, an IT security expert has said. READ  

Stockholm marathon admits 'naive' prize plan
Benjamin Bitok from Kenya won Stockholm Marathon last year. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

Stockholm marathon admits 'naive' prize plan

UPDATED: Stockholm marathon organizers have said that any non-Nordic runners to finish among the top six in the race will be offered prize money and described a previous announcement that only Nordic entrants would be entitled to the cash as "quite naive". READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
What's on in Sweden: April 23rd - 30th
Features
My bizarre Swedish habits that foreigners just don't understand
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
How the Stockholm School of Economics changes expat lives
National
Brits in Sweden face NHS black hole
Swedish Hasbeens
Sponsored Article
Is the world wrong to connect Sweden with sex?
Blog updates

24 April

Editor’s blog, April 24th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Spring has well and truly arrived, as evidenced by the start of strawberry season. The..." READ »

 

15 April

Gång, timme, tid & dags (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! In this article I will talk about “gång”, “timmar”, “dags” and “tid”, because they all translate..." READ »

 
 
 
Business & Money
The Swedish regions where you're least likely to stay jobless
Gallery
People-watching: April 22nd
Sport
Sweden's Eriksson joins row over foreign England player quotas
National
MEP says ignoring migrant crisis like 'Sweden's Holocaust appeasement'
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The Swedish mining town that's being moved
National
How much would you pay for first Swedish strawberries of 2015?
Gallery
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Want to study in Sweden? Read why Stockholm is the best choice
Photo: TT
National
Get set for a sunny week in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Does far-north Sweden have to punch above its weight?
National
Refugees in Sweden fear for families lost at sea
National
Syria claims ‘most dangerous’ Isis leaders are Scandinavian
Gallery
People-watching: April 18th
National
Swedish researchers pore over link between coffee and cancer
Features
What you can buy in Sweden for the price of a London shed
National
What's on in Sweden this week
National
Swedes launch first donut into space
Politics
Is Sweden returning to 1990s social democratic welfare politics?
National
Mamma Mia! Abba entertainment venue set to open in Stockholm
Gallery
People-watching: April 15th
National
Why Sweden is top place in the world for expats to raise children
National
Swedish 'submarine' was civilian boat
National
Why has a US town got pulled into a Swedish spelling row?
Gallery
Property of the week: Hovås, Gothenburg
National
What does Zlatan think of his ban?
National
Swedish teenagers help rebuild Breivik massacre island
National
Would you live in a steel box?
National
How an act of kindness by one Syrian immigrant went viral
Gallery
People-watching: April 8th
National
Swedish bids for Billboard fame
National
Swedish monkeys denied Saudi visas
National
Sunny spring weather predicted
Sponsored Article
'Impossible' to run Skanska without Bromma Airport
National
Half of Swedes want begging ban
Gallery
Property of the week: Gotland
National
Why are expats less likely to settle down with Swedes?
Sport
What does Sweden think of Zlatan's recent outburst?
Society
Get to grips with Sweden's most bizarre Easter traditions
Gallery
People-watching: April 1st
National
The Local's best April Fools' gags
National
US spy agency to feature in new 'Stieg Larsson' book sequel
National
Beaver bite at Swedish bus stop
Gallery
Property of the week: Åreda
Sponsored Article
'Sweden must embrace openness and diversity'
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

3,326
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se