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Swedish PM promises to tackle segregation

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Swedish PM promises to tackle segregation
Löfven speaking at the annual Almedalen politics meet-up. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
07:50 CEST+02:00
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has announced a new government programme designed to combat segregation in Sweden.

In his Tuesday speech at the annual Almedalen politics meet-up on Gotland, the Swedish PM warned that the country may be fractured if segregation is not tackled.

“There must be an end to the shootings, car burnings and drug trade,” he said.

“Religious extremist should not be able to gain power in the public sphere and decide where women can be, and how they dress.”

Löfven presented the ten-point government scheme before his speech. Running until 2025, it will receive 250 million kronor ($29.2 million) of government funding.

Among the points promised were a review of the punishments for attacks against police, as well as handing Sweden's employment agency Arbetsförmedlingen the mission of increasing employment among foreign-born women.

Tens of millions of kronor per year will go to school initiatives in disadvantaged areas, while 14 million kronor ($1.6 million) will be directed towards supporting sports leaders.

Swedish police have identified 53 vulnerable residential areas, of which 15 are considered particularly vulnerable. The latter are characterized by parallel social structures, violent religious extremism, and a difficulty for police attempting to carry out their duties there.

The Prime Minister rejected suggestions that the programme would mostly consist of surveys and studies, saying that was “not a correct description” of the project.

Löfven also talked about the government investing 60 billion kronor ($7 billion) in “societal building” in the form of a larger programme first outlined last spring. That larger scheme includes sending 10 million kronor ($1.1 million) extra in grants to municipalities, as well as investment in schools, transportation and homes. Those investments are for the entirety of Sweden.

When asked by Swedish news agency TT how the money from the new program will be correctly directed towards the affected areas, Löfven said that there will be an agreement made between delegations and the municipalities in vulnerable areas over what should be done.

Political science professor Jonas Hinnfors said he was surprised to find Löfven's programme vague and containing little money, while the government simultaneously depicts segregation as one of the great social challenges in Sweden.

“They are exposing themselves to the risk of receiving strong criticism for not doing much about a problem they are talking about in such strong terms,” he told TT.

The political scientist said he thinks the reform is fresh evidence of how difficult it is for the Social Democrats to allocate resources to projects considered “major reforms”.

Sweden's opposition Alliance coalition criticized the scheme. Centre Party leader Annie Lööf described it as “meaningless”, calling for concrete initiatives and highlighting the Alliance proposal of hiring 2000 more police officers.

Moderate party secretary Tomas Tobé was surprised meanwhile that the possibility of tougher sentences for attacks against the police will first require investigation.

“It isn't enough to investigate when stones are raining over the Swedish police,” he said.

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