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The day after the Swedish Election to parliament on September 19, many Swedes woke up in chock.
For the first time, a racist party had managed to get seats in the parliament. The Sweden Democrats, a party with roots in neo-Nazism, had gotten 5.7% of votes (4% is needed for parliament) and were about the same size as the other small parties in parliament.
For Sweden this was new, although our neighbours Norway and Denmark have had racist parties in their parliaments for some years, something that follows a European trend in politics at the moment. In Denmark Dansk Folkeparti is as big as around 13%, the third largest party in the country.
The Sweden Democrats holds the balance of power. The Alliance, the cooperation between Moderaterna (Conservatives/Moderate Party), Folkpartiet (Liberal Party) and Centerpartiet (Center Party), is in minority, which means to get decisions through; they have to find allies in one of the other parties.
Discussions have gone warm on what this means in reality and how members of parliament should act to completely shut out the Sweden Democrats from any political power. In this, all parties have agreed. The Sweden Democrats should be kept away from political influence and met with what they are: A party building politics on people’s ethnic and cultural background.
This only works if the traditional parties and their members have a clear idea of where they stand in their political act. That they wash their own dirty linen, so to speak.
In Region Västra Götaland, at the first meeting in the Regional Parliament held on November 2, we saw what this means.
After about five weeks of negotiations, the political alliance leading the region was formed. Socialdemokraterna (Social Democrats), Vänsterpartiet (Left Party) and Miljöpartiet (Green Party) form a minority governance together with Sjukvårdspartiet, a one-question party focused on medical care, as a balancing power. Still, together they hold only 74 seats, for majority 75 seats are needed of a total of 149. The Sweden Democrats holds 7 seats.
On the discussion on Kulturplanerna 2011–2012 (Cultural Plans), Patrik Ehn, a Sweden Democrat, argued to erase a formulation describing a trend of Europe becoming more and more racist and the fact that Sweden have a racist party in Government. But instead of suggesting to erase this specific sentence, the whole paragraph from the end of page twenty-nine, starting with the headline (my translation) “Region Västra Götaland wants to develop intercultural pedagogic”, to the end of page thirty, should, he argued, be erased from the document.
The paragraph Patrik Ehn urged being taken away is describing the importance of intercultural dialogue and how the region should work with issues like ethnicity, human rights and crossover cooperation with the aim of building understanding and knowledge instead of prejudices.
In the voting, 139 members voted to keep the paragraph, ten voted to erase it from the document.
Sweden Democrats acted as expected. They voted against and also asked for a two minutes break to leave a written reservation. The unexpected act was performed by some of the others. Of the ten members voting to erase, three were members of Moderaterna (Conservatives). Three members of the largest of the three ruling parties in Sweden voted with the Sweden Democrats.
It does give a scary indication of what we have in front of us.
Download the Kulturplanerna 2011–2012 here: underlag-till-regional-kulturplan-101022.pdf. See the clip from the first meeting in the Regional Parliament on 2 November 2010 from the discussion on Kulturplanerna here.
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