What percentage of Swedes are immigrants?

Political change in Sweden?

A political earthquake is likely to be imminent in Sweden a week from now on Sunday. Since 1917, Sweden's Social Democratic Labor Party, which was founded in 1889, has always emerged as the strongest party in all Reichstag elections. When the polling stations close on September 9th, such 100 years of social democratic dominance in Sweden could be over.

Social Democrats before the crash

The results of 2010 and 2014, at 30.7 and 31.0 percent, were the worst social democratic election debacles since 1920. The Sunday after next, things will probably get even worse. New polls only give the Social Democrats between 24 and 26 percent. A YouGov-A poll of August 20 saw them with just under 22 percent even as the second largest group in Sweden's 349-seat Reichstag - behind the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats (SD) with 24.2 percent.

Because the big election winner is also certain: those Sweden Democrats. They won 12.9 percent and 49 MPs in 2014. In 2010 it was just 5.7 percent and in 2006 only 2.9 percent. With current polls between 19 and 25 percent, they are now fairly certain of the role of the second largest group. And they may even succeed in overtaking the Social Democrats.

Just one campaign topic: immigration

Swedish voters want a change of course. They are actually doing brilliantly: The economy is growing by 2.8 percent with a trade surplus of 3.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). The national budget is up by 1.1 percent, while inflation in the non-euro area is 1.9 percent. At most, unemployment was 7.2 percent in June (The Economist) noticeably above the value of other northern EU countries.

But none of that counts anymore. There is only one major campaign issue left in Sweden: immigration and crime. A consequence of decades of unrestrained immigration policy by the Social Democrats. The red-green minority government of the Social Democratic Prime Minister Stefan Löfven accepted 163,000 migrants in 2015 alone - and ultimately overwhelmed the country.

17 percent immigrants

Stockholm had to close its borders, even those with its Scandinavian neighbor Denmark. For the first time since the 1950s. The asylum rules have been tightened dramatically. Since 2016, Sweden has only accepted around 30,000 asylum seekers each year. What does not change the fact that the country is constantly being overwhelmed by the fact that in just six to seven years the country, which now has a population of just ten million, has grown by a million, says Sweden's police chief Anders Thornberg. In the 1970s, at most one percent of the eight million Swedes at the time were immigrants. Today, at least 17 percent are immigrants or immigrant children - more than the US's 13 percent.

Sweden's population has grown by maybe a million people in maybe six or seven years. "

Anders Thornberg, police chief

In the former Malmö workers' suburb of Rosengard, over 80 percent of the 24,000 inhabitants are now migrants. In the Stockholm settlement of Husby it is 85 percent - veiled hijab robes and Afghan Pakol hats shape the streets there, wrote the renowned US foreign policy magazine Foreign Affairs as early as 2014. Not only districts, entire cities are changing their face: In the 70,000-inhabitant city of Södertälje - the headquarters of the truck manufacturer Scania - around 50 percent of the population are migrants, reports the Paris daily newspaper Le Figaro.

Gang violence in the cities

The police speak of 23 problem areas in the country today - and of growing violent crime in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. Migrants are strongly overrepresented: 50 percent of the serious criminals in the prisons are foreigners. Almost one shootout a day with a total of more than 40 deaths, that was part of the Swedish crime record for 2017. In addition, attacks on the police with firearms or explosives.

Sweden in shock over gang violence.

The New Zurich Times

The issue of crime has now really made its way into the election campaign: On August 13, four weeks before the election date, more than 100 cars burned in one night in Gothenburg, western Sweden. Prime Minister Löfven spoke of a "coordinated, almost military operation". In June there were three dead in a shooting in the middle of Malmö. “Gang wars,” say the police. Indeed, gang mischief is spreading in Sweden and penetrating the public space. Which is increasingly frightening the population. In March wrote the The New Zurich Times above, under the heading: "Sweden's dream of integration has burst."

Integration debacle with announcement

This can also be seen in other figures: In the migrant suburbs, on average, more than 50 percent of the students leave schools without a qualification, in some places it is even 70 percent. Nationwide, the dropout rate is only 17.5 percent. Around 60 percent of all Swedish social benefits now go to migrants, the Swedish economist and immigration expert Tino Sanadaji reported in 2015.

The Sweden Democrats have benefited greatly from this development. You've owned the immigration issue for a long time. They give the rigorous answers that many voters want to hear now. The 39-year-old SD chief Jimmy Akesson wants to end immigration completely and only accept asylum seekers from neighboring countries. Rejected asylum seekers should be quickly returned to their countries of origin. "Akesson: We are the only party to which the interests and well-being of Swedish citizens is more important than mass immigration." Also in the SD election program: the increase in the Swedish defense budget to 2.5 percent and a referendum on the EU Membership.

Sweden's far right is surfing the wave of migration.

Le Figaro

In the meantime, the other parties have followed suit: the Social Democrats and the - still - the second strongest conservative moderate party, want to limit immigration even more. Sweden's entire spectrum of parties is moving to the right, complain left-wing observers. Too late: When it comes to immigration and crime, voters give the Sweden Democrats the best marks. Voters even flock to them from among the workers and trade unionists.

"... then nobody can ignore us anymore"

What will happen after election night? "Whether the SD get 20 or 25 percent of the vote doesn't change much," analyzes a political journalist for the Stockholm daily Aftonbladet. Because the Sweden Democrats will still not be able to govern alone. And all other parties have so far ruled out working with them. But both the socialists and the moderates, which are expected to have shrunk by around six points to only 17 percent, could try to form a minority government.

We can have an impact on the government without belonging to it.

Jimmie Akesson, chairman of the Sweden Democrats

But it will be more difficult to continue bypassing the SD politically. In fact, there are already voices among conservative moderates who consider cooperation with the SD to be possible or necessary.

SD chief Akesson recently admitted calmly: “We can have an impact on the government without belonging to it.” Above all, the SD wanted a major change of course for Sweden. It doesn't matter who is at the wheel, as long as the direction is right, says Akesson: "In two weeks we may be the strongest party in Sweden, and then nobody can ignore us."