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Meet Sweden's lonely Donald Trump voter

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Meet Sweden's lonely Donald Trump voter
A Donald Trump campaign button. Photo: Rogelio V Solis/AP
12:09 CEST+02:00
Back in September The Local spoke to Americans in Sweden about how they plan on voting in the forthcoming presidential election, and while we heard views from across the political spectrum, we also discovered that finding Donald Trump voters on Swedish soil was a difficult task. Almost impossible.

Not entirely impossible, it turns out. Meet Chris, a Michigan native who now lives in Dalarna, a largely rural area in central Sweden.

Like many people who moved to the Nordic country, he came here for love, but unlike Americans in Sweden we have spoken to previously, he plans on voting for Donald Trump.

“It’s the most lonely thing,” Chris tells The Local. “You speak to a lot of Swedes who aren’t as sympathetic or as understanding of the US system as a lot of Americans would be. I’ve yet to meet another American here in Sweden who supports Trump.”

“There could be a silent minority,” he speculates. “But it’s really hard to judge if they don’t speak up and you don’t know about them.”


Dalarna is known for its untouched scenery. Photo: Jacque de Villiers/Imagebank.sweden.se

In contrast to finding like-minded Americans in Dalarna, it isn’t difficult to find Swedes willing to talk about Trump, Chris says. Though the conversations can sometimes be frustrating.

“Swedish friends kind of brush me off, ‘silly American there’, and they definitely want to talk but they find it hard to argue at my level,” he notes. “I don’t think they have an understanding of how it works and take it from a very Swedish perspective, which is something you can’t do. It’s a completely different monster.”

The 23-year-old says he generally tries to avoid the subject of Trump just in case it rubs people the wrong way (and indeed, he doesn’t want The Local to use his full name as a similar precaution).

Despite that fear, he admits Swedes are largely respectful of his point of view, even if they don’t agree with it.

“I try to keep it to myself. Shut up and don’t talk about it, basically. But when I talk about it I put a good argument up, I offer my reasoning. For the most part people are surprisingly understanding.”

“I understand I’m in a different country and I have to respect their values. I do get frustrated with the Swedish system sometimes, but I’m respectful of it.”


A lone Trump supporter waiting for a rally in California. Photo: Jae C Hong/AP

So what about some of Trump’s more extreme rhetoric? How does he explain the US presidential candidate’s comments on Muslims, Mexicans or women to a Swede?

“I think the best way of explaining Trump’s rhetoric is that he’s a very unrefined politician. Unlike Clinton, who reads from a teleprompter, he shoots from the hip. So because of that I feel like the wrong point is sometimes made,” Chris reasons.

“I think it’s a consequence of his style. I actually believe he doesn’t believe those things himself. To a degree, yes, but not completely.”

Not all Swedes are hostile to Trump, the Dalarna resident points out. Some may even be more fond of the New Yorker than he is.

“I’ve met Swedish Trump supporters,” he reveals.

“I had an old work colleague who supported him, he backed Trump because he was a big fan of free speech and felt Trump would relay the groundwork for that. He was also a big gun enthusiast, a bit more extreme than me, and felt everyone should have the right to own a gun and that right should extend to here in Sweden. He was a nice guy.”

Perhaps surprisingly, Chris doesn’t think there is a need for someone like Trump to emerge in his new home and shake up Swedish politics in the same way.

“No. I think the system works pretty OK here as it is, and we should vote along policy and party lines only.”

But what about the populist Sweden Democrats and their leader Jimmie Åkesson, whose strategy of evoking images of a mythical golden age of years gone by is comparable to some of Trump’s ‘Make America great again’ rhetoric. Would Chris vote for them?

“I do respect some of their views. I wouldn’t vote for the party, the Sweden Democrats. But I do respect some of their views,” he concedes.


Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Åkesson. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

Despite that, the American feels his political views have become more moderate since moving to Sweden.

“I’ve definitely softened a bit since I moved here and swung a bit more to the left,” Chris laughs.

“I’m still very much right wing, if you were to put into those terms, but I have no problem reaching over and saying ‘yes, you have a good point’.”

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