Young Swedes becoming more politically engaged, but don’t trust politicians: survey

Young Swedes are becoming more politically engaged, but almost half of them have little confidence in politicians, a new survey shows.

Young Swedes becoming more politically engaged, but don't trust politicians: survey
File photo of two young Swedes. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB Scanpix/TT

Analysis firm Ungdomsbarometern (youth barometer) asked young people in Sweden between the age of 15 and 24 for their views on social issues. The results show that interest in politics has grown among the group in recent years: the proportion that say they have a great interest in politics and societal development is now at 42 percent, compared to 28 percent 14 years ago.

At the same time however, almost half of the respondents said they do not believe that politicians can solve Sweden's problems. When asked about organizations and institutions, the young people surveyed expressed the highest confidence in the police, and lowest confidence in political parties.

Despite youth unemployment in Sweden being at its lowest in 13 years, the Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen) also placed near the bottom in the confidence rankings, while banks, healthcare and schools done well.

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Slightly more people said their views lie close to or fairly close to those of the opposition Alliance coalition (55 percent) than the Red-Green Social Democrat, Green and Left parties (51 percent). 

The survey also suggests that old class links with voting patterns are weak among youngsters: only 17 percent of those who said they would vote for the Social Democrats consider themselves working class, for example.


Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

The chairwoman of the Police Association West Region has said that police special tactics, known as Särskild polistaktik or SPT, should be available across Sweden, to use in demonstrations similar to those during the Easter weekend.

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

SPT, (Särskild polistaktik), is a tactic where the police work with communication rather than physical measures to reduce the risk of conflicts during events like demonstrations.

Tactics include knowledge about how social movements function and how crowds act, as well as understanding how individuals and groups act in a given situation. Police may attempt to engage in collaboration and trust building, which they are specially trained to do.

Katharina von Sydow, chairwoman of the Police Association West Region, told Swedish Radio P4 West that the concept should exist throughout the country.

“We have nothing to defend ourselves within 10 to 15 metres. We need tools to stop this type of violent riot without doing too much damage,” she said.

SPT is used in the West region, the South region and in Stockholm, which doesn’t cover all the places where the Easter weekend riots took place.

In the wake of the riots, police unions and the police’s chief safety representative had a meeting with the National Police Chief, Anders Tornberg, and demanded an evaluation of the police’s work. Katharina von Sydow now hopes that the tactics will be introduced everywhere.

“This concept must exist throughout the country”, she said.

During the Easter weekend around 200 people were involved in riots after a planned demonstration by anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), that included the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Police revealed on Friday that at least 104 officers were injured in counter-demonstrations that they say were hijacked by criminal gangs intent on targeting the police. 

Forty people were arrested and police are continuing to investigate the violent riots for which they admitted they were unprepared. 

Paludan’s application for another demonstration this weekend was rejected by police.

In Norway on Saturday, police used tear gas against several people during a Koran-burning demonstration after hundreds of counter-demonstrators clashed with police in the town of Sandefjord.