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Rural Swedes protest ‘fanatical urbanisation'

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Rural Swedes protest ‘fanatical urbanisation'
Rural Revolt 2015 demonstrated at Mynttorget in Stockholm on Friday. Photo: TT
12:51 CEST+02:00
On Friday, rural residents drove tractors and other vehicles with banners into several Swedish cities to protest what they are calling the injustice they experience in the countryside. They say their concerns are largely ignored by politicians.

“There is a fanatical urbanisation taking place at the expense of the rural areas even though we pay the same taxes,” said Erika Sörengård from Ervalla near Örebro. “There has to be the same level of basic services in the countryside, as well.”

Sörengård is the initiator of Landsbygdsupproret (Rural Revolt) 2015, which has some 5,000 followers on Facebook. On its homepage, the movement complains of Sweden’s “urbanization, rural mobbing, centralization, unfair competition, shut-down schools and discontinued services.”

“Measures must be taken so that we are able to support our farmers and maintain our lovely countryside,” Sörengård told the TT news agency. She suggested a tax on imported meat or requiring that foreign farmers exporting meat to Sweden keep their livestock according to Swedish standards.

According to her, one farmer goes out of business in Sweden every day, adding that Swedish politicians focus on the needs of cities and leave rural matters largely in the EU’s hands. She said she hopes to start a dialogue with the Ministry of Industry and local politicians who she has contacted.

“We want to extend a hand to city dwellers today,” she said. “We want to have a dialogue because we need each other. Unfortunately, there's been little interest on the part of politicians but we hope we can create a platform after today.”

The Rural Revolt sent members to 22 locations in Sweden, among them Borlänge, Eskilstuna, Sundsvall, Uddevalla and Örebro.

However, it has not yet reached the status of a mass movement. In Stockholm on Friday, there was only one tractor seen at Mynttorget.

“We are far away from the march 101 years ago that brought 30,000 farmers to Stockholm,” Sörengård said. “So we can’t compare it to that, but we’ve already had a fantastic impact.”  

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