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MALMÖ

Sweden Democrats biggest in two-thirds of Skåne districts

The populist Sweden Democrats have painted Sweden's southernmost county of Skåne almost entirely yellow, emerging in the parliamentary vote as the biggest party in 21 out of 33 municipalities.

Sweden Democrats biggest in two-thirds of Skåne districts
Magnus Olsson, the Sweden Democrat's leader on Malmö City council at the party's celebration on Sunday night. Photo: Richard Orange
“The voters have seen that there needs to be a change in politics, and Skåne has been badly hit by immigration,” Jörgen Grubb, the party's chairman in the city of Malmö, told the Expressen newspaper.
 
At the parliamentary level, the party dominated constituencies in the entire county apart from a strip along the west coast, and a south-western enclave in the city of Ystad. 
 
“It looks almost like the cities are forts under siege,” the journalist Petter Larsson wrote in the Sydsvenskan newspaper. “The last villages in Gaul.”
In the municipal elections, it was biggest in eleven of the county's 33 municipalities, taking the entire centre of the county, with the Social Democrats and Moderates still dominating on the east and west coasts. 
 
“It's not really that surprising, we are extremely strong in those municipalities,” Grubb told Expressen. “But of course it feels absolutely fantastic.” 
 
The party did best in the market town of Hörby, where the party won 35.4 percent and the local representative Stefan Borg hopes to become the first Sweden Democrat mayor in Sweden's history. 
 
“We got more than double the Social Democrats in the local election and we are very happy with the result,” Borg told The Local. “We are the municpality with the highest proportion of Sweden Democrat voters in all of Sweden. We can always hope for more but, realistically, this is a super result.” 
 
 
The party won just 16.4 percent of the vote in the city of Malmö, however, giving it the chance of helping oust the Social Democrats from power for the first time in 24 years, as it has promised its supporters. 
 
With the support of the Sweden Democrats, the Moderates, Liberal Party and Centre Party have a one-seat majority in Malmö. 
 
The Sweden Democrats' Malmö councillor Magnus Olsson has pledged to back the Alliance parties without demanding any policy concessions which might force the Centre and Liberal parties to leave the coalition. 
 
 
Niels Paarup-Petersen, the local leader of the Centre Party, told TT that he would never support the Social Democrats in the city. 
 
“We are not going to join a Social Democrat-led regime in Malmö. That's not going to happen. They have ruled for 24 years,” he told TT.
 
The ruling Social Democrats' last hope lies in the 3,000 overseas postal votes which will only finish being counted on Wednesday. 
 
There is still a chance that these could tip the party and its Green and Left Party coalition partners back into a majority, allowing them to keep control of Sweden's third city. 
 
But Henry Lindelöf, a local statistician, told Sydsvenskan that that last remaining mandate was probably more likely to be won by the Moderate Party, given the voter sympathies of overseas Swedes. 
 
In Hörby, the town's Social Democract Mayor has called for all of the other main political parties to form a coalition aimed at keeping the Sweden Democrats out of power. 
 
“That's the entire political establishement of all political parties ganging up to keep me away from the post of the Mayor,” Borg said. 
 
“But I'm quite confident that she will not succeed in her plans, because it would be suicidal for some of the more moderate parties of the right to go into coalition with her. I don't think that they will do that.” 

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SHOOTINGS

US criminologist lauds Malmö for anti-gang success

The US criminologist behind the anti-gang strategy designed to reduce the number of shootings and explosions in Malmö has credited the city and its police for the "utterly pragmatic, very professional, very focused" way they have put his ideas into practice.

US criminologist lauds Malmö for anti-gang success
Johan Nilsson/TT

In an online seminar with Malmö mayor Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh, David Kennedy, a professor at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said implementing his Group Violence Intervention (GVI) strategy had gone extremely smoothly in the city.

“What really stands out about the Malmö experience is contrary to most of the places we work,” he said. “They made their own assessment of their situation on the ground, they looked at the intervention logic, they decided it made sense, and then, in a very rapid, focused and business-like fashion, they figured out how to do the work.”

He said that this contrasted with police and other authorities in most cities who attempt to implement the strategy, who tend to end up “dragging their feet”, “having huge amounts of political infighting”, and coming up with reasons why their city is too different from other cities where the strategy has been a success.

Malmö’s Sluta Skjut (Stop Shooting) pilot scheme was extended to a three-year programme this January, after its launch in 2018 coincided with a reduction in the number of shootings and explosions in the city.

“We think it’s a good medicine for Malmö for breaking the negative trend that we had,” Malmö police chief Stefan Sintéus said, pointing to the fall from 65 shootings in 2017 to 20 in 2020, and in explosions from 62 in 2017 to 17 in 2020.

A graph from Malmö police showing the reduction in the number of shootings from 2017 to 2020. Graph: Malmö Police
A graph from Malmö police showing the reduction in the number of explosions in the city between 2017 and 2020. Graph: Malmö Police

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In their second evaluation of the programme, published last month, Anna-Karin Ivert, Caroline Mellgren, and Karin Svanberg, three criminologists from Malmö University, reported that violent crime had declined significantly since the program came into force, and said that it was possible that the Sluta Skjut program was partly responsible, although it was difficult to judge exactly to what extent. 

The number of shootings had already started to decline before the scheme was launched, and in November 2019, Sweden’s national police launched Operation Rimfrost, a six-month crackdown on gang crime, which saw Malmö police reinforced by officers from across Sweden.

But Kennedy said he had “very little sympathy” for criminologists critical of the police’s decision to launch such a massive operation at the same time as Sluta Skjut, making it near impossible to evaluate the programme.

“Evaluation is there to improve public policy, public policy is not there to provide the basis for for sophisticated evaluation methodology,” he argued.

“When people with jobs to do, feel that they need to do things in the name of public safety, they should follow their professional, legal and moral judgement. Not doing something to save lives, because it’s going to create evaluation issues, I think, is simply privileging social science in a way that it doesn’t deserve.”

US criminologist David Kennedy partaking in the meeting. Photo: Richard Orange

Sluta Skjut has been based around so-called ‘call-ins’, in which known gang members on probation are asked to attend meetings, where law enforcement officials warn them that if shootings and explosions continue, they and the groups around them will be subject to intense focus from police.

At the same time, social workers and other actors in civil society offer help in leaving gang life.

Of the 250-300 young men who have been involved in the project, about 40 have been sent to prison, while 49 have joined Malmö’s ‘defector’ programme, which helps individuals leave gangs.

Kennedy warned not to focus too much on the number of those involved in the scheme who start to work with social services on leaving gang life.

“What we find in in practice is that most of the impact of this approach doesn’t come either because people go to prison or because they take services and leave gang life,” he said.

“Most of the impact comes from people simply putting their guns down and no longer being violent.”

“We think of the options as continuing to be extremely dangerous, or completely turning one’s life around. That’s not realistic in practice. Most of us don’t change that dramatically ever in our lives.”

He stressed the importance of informal social control in his method, reaching those who gang members love and respect, and encouraging them to put pressure on gang members to abstain from gun violence.

“We all care more about our mothers than we care about the police, and it turns out that if you can find the guy that this very high risk, very dangerous person respects – literally, you know, little old ladies will go up to him and get his attention and tell him to behave himself. And he will.”

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