Every-day practice of political work

In Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland political parties with less tolerance towards immigrants are growing in popularity.

In an article in today’s daily Dagens Nyheter (April 9 2011) you can see that sympathies for Fremskrittspartiet (Norway), Dansk Folkeparti (Denmark), Sverigedemokraterna (Sweden), and Sannfinländarna (Finland) are growing in popularity.

In Sweden, Sverigedemokraterna (Sweden Democrats) got seats in Parliament in the last election 2010 (and in Finland Sannfinländarna are expected to get into Parliament in upcoming election on April 17). Ever since, Swedish politicians have had different strategies and theories of how to handle the situation and not give these nationalists any power. With mixed success.

In an article in Eskilstuna-Kuriren on March 28, you can read that it is shown by research and practice that if the other political parties meet nationalistic parties’ hostility towards immigrants with other arguments, they loose and the nationalistic parties gain votes. It is said to be built on the assumption that immigrant hostility is stronger among voters than among our political representatives and when an argument is met with another argument, the questions become more housetrained. These thoughts are now being backed by a working report by Quality of Government Institute at University of Gothenburg, which is pointing in the same direction (download paper below).

A better strategy to meet the nationalistic arguments would, then, be to do the opposite. Instead of trying to burst an argument or point-of-view with a better argument, just meet it with silence.

At the conference Kulturens roll i samhällsutvecklingen (The role of culture for social progress) last Friday (April 8, 2011) representatives from the 49 municipalities in Region Västra Götaland were invited together with civil servants and some cultural organizations to discuss just that: The role of culture in local and regional development. Proud political representatives showed examples of cultural projects and its effects for their local community. Everyone was movingly in agreement of the role of culture. And the need for arms-lengths distance between politicians and artistic content.

But in the region we still have in memory the discussion on the first meeting in the Regional Parliament held on November 2, 2010, where Sweden Democrats argued to take away a whole chapter of text in Kulturplanerna 2011–2012, the Cultural Plans of coming two years, concerning 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. This should, the Sweden Democrats argued, be erased from the document.

Their suggestion was voted down, but interestingly two persons from one of the largest parties, and one of the parties at the moment in Swedish Government, Moderaterna (Conservatives), voted together with the Sweden Democrats.

This is the everyday practice of political work. And shows how thoughts from the Swedish nationalstic party, with a background in neo-nazism, is slowly sneeking into the political arena and decisions.

Read related posts Wash one’s one dirty linen and Migration and entrepreneurs.

Read former post on Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, Time to guarantee artistic freedom.

Download the working report from Quality of Government Institute, University of Gothenburg, wwwqogpolguse_working_papers_2011_5_dahlstrom_sundell.pdf.

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Lotta Lekvall
Director of Nätverkstan, a Cultural Organisation in Sweden. Nätverkstan provides services …

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