Jimmie Åkesson interview: ‘If you don’t want to be part of Sweden, then you cannot live here’
The so-called cordon sanitaire that long barred the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats from real political influence is now well and truly gone. The Local spoke to the party's leader Jimmie Åkesson about how he thinks he can now change Swedish politics and policies around migration.
Published: 13 May 2021 08:10 CEST
Updated: 14 May 2021 08:06 CEST
Updated: 14 May 2021 08:06 CEST
Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson arriving at a press conference in the parliament in April. Photo: Sofia Ekström/SvD/TT
POLITICS IN SWEDEN
Politics in Sweden: What are Jimmie Åkesson’s plans for the future?
Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson's absence from one of the main events in the political calendar has prompted pundits to wonder what his plans are after 18 years at the helm of the party.
Published: 23 May 2023 10:10 CEST
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It’s good to have this interview. However, in order for the Local not to be a mouth-piece propaganda of the Right-wing coalition, The Local needs to unpack the story from a more critical and thorough perspective. The Local needs more critical writers and analysts instead of just portraying the words of mouth for the Right-wing. Remember, readers nowadays are so lazy. Readers don’t think. They are fed.
I am stunned at The Local giving this interview so neutrally. This right-wing rhetoric and intended policy is nothing short of racist and bigoted and just allowing these people to wax on comfortably on this site legitimizes their platform.
Agree with you, Jacob. Denmark is obviously a very bad example that Sweden wants to mimic. Why not mimicking Canada or New Zealand, for instance? These latters have both: a good welfare system and a more welcoming approach to foreigners.
Thanks! I’ve been following some of your comments on the matter and we seem to be in accord on the subject. I am just appalled at this level and tone of coverage. Especially on a site that caters to… uh, immigrants. There’s good, objective journalism and then there’s staying neutral to the point of complicity.
Isn’t journalism suppose to be neutral and probing. There is a level of neutrality one needs to take to make the interviewee comfortable enough to open himself up and express true opinions in detail. In the marketplace of ideas I believe his opinions will lose! There is nothing more dangerous than a politician hiding behind the most basic and dumbest form of dialogue and rhetoric – such as slogans. At least we now have substance to point to and say this is what this person believes in, their policy position, and that’s not what we want.
Good to see a balanced and calm interview about the Sweden Democrats. They currently have 62 seats in the Swedish Riksdag (17.7%) and are the third largest political party in Sweden (out of a total of 8 parties). Love them or loathe them, it’s difficult and unjust to ignore their existence.
Indeed it is precisely the end of the ‘cordon sanitaire’ that has prevailed for years until just two weeks ago, and that opens the preamble to the interview above, that is now so important. The whole point is that there could now be a right-of-centre parliamentary majority after the elections in September next year should the Moderate, Liberal and Christian Democrat parties join up with the Sweden Democrats – as they now appear to be agreeing to do. If this new situation holds, the entire balance of political power in Sweden could radically change.
One can naturally dislike the Sweden Democrats’ proposed policies, just as much as I can dislike the madness of some of the policies of Vänsterpartiet and Miljöpartiet, who regularly hold Löfven and the current government to ransom because of his extremely weak position in Riksdagen. Nonetheless, I duly respect that V and MP have the right to exist and be represented in parliament, and the same must apply to the Sweden Democrats and their comparatively strong presence in Riksdagen.
I am sorry but can’t stand any form of populism and xenophobia. Jimmie Åkesson is a dangerous guy, and if in full power he will cause a lot of damage to this country. I went through that awful disaster of Brexit and the likes of Mr. Åkesson: Nigel Farage, Jakob Rees-Mogg, Priti Patel, Boris Johnson. Disgraceful characters for a British psycho-drama, to be nice. No respect for these scavengers, they feed hatred to reap votes.
Agree, marlibgin. As someone who has lived in Sweden for 11 years and loved this country, I worry about its future. However, we must seriously ponder over these following questions: What breaches this “cordon sanitaire”? Why does the unthinkable “nightmare” trope of racism and anti-democracy such as the Sweden Democrats become the MOST powerful party in Sweden today? What has driven them to power? Why is it so difficult – or almost impossible – to defeat them? What has gone wrong with the Left – traditionally conceived as antagonism to racism, anti-democracy, inequality, capitalism, and all sorts of nasty oppressed things? What incapacitates the Left today? Is immigration a real threat to Swedish society or something else? What makes the figure of the foreigner become so frightening today? Why is it so easy to talk about immigration curb rather than talking about how to solve the inherent inequality of capitalism which is the source of exploitation and deprivation for the working class today? Why the only thing that obsesses the Right is immigration? What kind of future that the Right can offer apart from the annihilation of the foreigner (e.g. reducing refugee numbers to zero as Åkesson claims)? And what kind of future do we want from the Right? Are they capable of delivering such a future that is livable for all of us?
While respecting your opinion and likewise disliking the madness of the radical left, I don’t think it’s a good idea to drool over the growth of an equally dangerous ideology.
I’m only defending SD’s right to exist and be treated in the same way as all other Swedish political parties. I’ve never voted for them, and I’ve no idea how they would behave should they join a coalition government. The Center Party used to be a pretty dull lot (although you can never trust them either way), but Annie Lööf comes up with the most extraordinary ideas sometimes. You can never be quite sure what you’re going to get when voting. Those who voted C or L last time, thinking they would get some kind of continuation of the old right-of-centre Alliansen, discovered afterwards that C and L would support the Social Democrat/Miljöpartiet coalition! No wonder people go over to the Sweden Democrats in desperation…
He is right that Trump wouldn’t stand a chance in a Swedish election; but not because of what he thinks. Trump would not be elected because of his character, not his policies. He is extremely arrogant and narcissist and Swedes don’t like that type (think Jäntelagen). Otherwise, the likes of Jimmy are fundamentally the same as Trump as far as the policies go. Characterwise, Jimmy is a less accomplished person compared to Trump (socially and financially), and due to his cultural roots, he does not come across as flamboyant and arrogant as Trump does. And those characteristics make him more appealing to those who like his Trump-like policies.
I came here a decade ago to get a master’s degree (had multiple admissions from European and American universities) and ended up with a Ph.D. and a bunch of academic positions here and there and finally an R&D position in a high-tech company. It is disgusting to read blanket statements that this guy throws out to lash all foreigners living here. I’m sure at least I have been paying more taxes than him because of my high salary.
Regardless, this guy cannot stay in the fast lane forever, and sooner or later his expiration date will come, just like Trump’s did (or Hitler’s did for that matter). I consider him nothing more than noise and disturbance in the political landscape causing unnecessary suffering to people. But I have made my decision; I will just ride the disturbance out and wait for better days. That’s because I choose to do what I want to do with my life, not you Jimmy. It’s one planet earth and it belongs to all people. If you are bothered with my presence here and cannot learn to co-exist, you are welcome to leave.
I share with you, SR. However, I’m not that optimistic about Jimmy’s expiry date. If Jimmy is gone, there will be another Jimmy. Now Trump is gone, but sooner or later, there will be another Trump. We can’t just sit and wait for the better days to come because those days will never come in our life time. Looking back at our human “revolution” history, there wasn’t any “better day” either – although there might have been some moments of orgies. The worst scenario in Sweden next year is possible – because there is currently no antagonistic force that can defeat Jimmy. The US politics is much more vigorous.
You hit the nail on the head with “We can’t just sit and wait for the better days to come because those days will never come in our lifetime”. Sad, but true. But do you see any viable alternative to waiting? I personally don’t think moving to yet another country would help me much, although given my qualifications I can do that. You know, things change rather quickly. When I chose to study here, all I would see in the advertisement and fliers were ” Choose Sweden, it’s such a diverse place with open-minded people.” But the reality turned out to be a different story. The problem is I was too busy studying and doing my academic research to actually realize which direction the country was headed.
SR, we’re on the same boat. We’re educated, we have the skills and knowledge this country wants, and we can move to another country if we want. Yet, there is no grass that is greener than others. Under this global structure of capitalism, neoliberalism, imperialism, and colonialism, you’ll get it all – if you happen not to be born in a “white” country (which, of course, you can’t choose your birthplace).
I’m not sure what industry you two work in. But salaries in general are much higher in Canada than in Sweden. And Canada has extremely lax immigration rules, and is now ramping up immigration following the pandemic (which put a big dent in Canada’s immigration plans). And salaries for tech workers are even higher in the US than in Canada.
Would you care to disclose your salaries here?
If so – I’ll provide detailed advice regarding what you could expect to earn in Canada and the US, and the relative cost of living adjustment you might apply to better understand the impact of moving.
I’m happy to help.
And on a related note:
Do you know the current reasonable and average salary for a tech working in Sweden (let’s say someone with a Masters of Engineering or Computer Science, and 10 to 15 years of decent experience). What would such a person earn each month now?
You have it right about the higher salaries in high-tech industries in North America. I was well aware of it a decade ago when I chose to do my postgraduate studies in Sweden although I had several admissions from other countries including US. Regarding Canada (specifically Vancouver) it did strike me as a lively multicultural environment during a study visit back in the summer of 2019 (happy pre-corona times). But neither qualities are enough motivations for me to move.
Fortunately, money is not much of a priority for me. Having a Ph.D. and a modicum of experience, I am quite happy with my current salary that is well above the average income of an individual with a master’s degree. I also do some investing/trading activities on the side (US/Swedish stocks). That’s a nice side income too. For me, job satisfaction and the company of intelligent friendly colleagues come first. I have been fortunate to get plenty of those in Sweden, which made me love this place. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I sure hope Jimmy does not break it.
But thanks for the offer to help, I appreciate it 🙂
Regarding your question on salary statistics, you can take a look here but keep in mind that in practice there are plenty of outliers. For example, there isn’t much data on those with a PhD.
I’m suggesting you consider moving to Canada. You seem unhappy in Sweden, and Canada is probably the most open minded and Liberal nation on earth. Canada is throwing the immigration floodgates open to compensate for lower immigration during the Covid pandemic. Salaries are higher in Canada, and taxes are lower. As is the cost of living.
I estimate that the average tech worker is about 30% to 50% wealthier in Canada than in Sweden.
If you care to post your salary here (it’s anonymous), and a few words about your skillset, I’d be happy to provide more detailed information and advice.
Feel free to let me know if you want to learn more.
Happy to help.
You should move to Canada.
Salaries are higher. I estimate that the typical tech worker is about 30% to 50% wealthier in Canada than in Sweden. And immigration rates are extremely high, esp. now that the government is boosting immigration to make up for time lost during the Covid pandemic.
Care to post your salary here (anonymously of course)?
If so – I’d be happy to provide some comparative information and thoughtful advice for your gents.
Swedes need to understand that Sweden, the successful country they built over hundreds of years, is finished. They created a beautiful nation. The approved great policies. They developed a unique and interesting culture. And they conceived and built dozens of world-beating and leading edge companies. But it’s over. Done. Finito.
Swedes might have been able to stop the transition with some strict policies 15 years ago. But they didn’t. And now – it’s all over. Wait another 10 yearsto allow the older voters to die off. The Swedish parliament will soon switch over, and the “new Swedes” will have power. With this, the “new Swedes” will vote for more immigration and family re-unification and other such policies that benefit their interests. I would expect inheritance taxes, wealth taxes and more laws regarding so called “equality” at work (guaranteed racial diversity rules on boards of companies, for example).
Give it ten years. It’s inevitable now.
Swedes need to accept this and get on with it.
(1) I agree that Sweden is a beautiful and prosperous country that has been built over many years. But it used to be quite poor having all sorts of problems even without the “new Swedes”, as you put it. A good example is the great famine in the late 19th century leading to the mass emigration to the US. The emigration wave carried over into the early 20th century. I have had the company of the descendants of one such family. As much as they consider themselves American, they are proud of their Swedish heritage although they are essentially “New Americans” and not real Americans. And that’s where it gets interesting. I don’t understand how it is OK for famine-stricken Swedes to migrate, but not OK for other war-stricken folks to seek a better life by coming to Sweden (which is by the way among the top 10 exporters of weapons in the world; tell Jimmy to stop selling weapons instead of giving financial aids and banning refugees). And I don’t understand why it is OK for the then famine-stricken poor Swedes and now “new Americans” to be proud of their heritage, and not OK for the “new Swedes” to want to cherish their roots because they will be accused of not wanting to assimilate. I wonder if the double standard has something to do with race/ethnicity?
(2) It is so naive to think that just because older voters will die off, “the “new Swedes” will vote for more immigration and family re-unification and other such policies that benefit their interests”. The older voters who support people like Jimmy have already raised children and grandchildren to fill their spot. During my Ph.D. years in Sweden, I have “enjoyed” the company of such people who had nothing but pure contempt for the “new Swedes”, as well as the international students of less favored cultures. Heck, some of them even told me they would not mind newcomers of a certain race (you guessed it?) but not others. Mind you, such encounters happened in the ivory tower of academia, where such people would openly express their disdain even towards the kind of food foreign students were eating. And yes, these people were in their 20s, and some already had kids. So, no need to worry about running out of racist people. Also, don’t forget that some of the most die-hard conservatives are either directly immigrants or descendants of immigrants. So it’s far more complex than you think, but of course it’s so convenient to blame everything on immigration. Wasn’t it the “real Swedes” who voted for pro-immigration politicians before Sweden got “finished” due to immigration? Am I missing something?
(3) And what’s with saying “new Swedes” anyway? A “new Swede” has come to the country legally and has all the qualification to receive the citizenship status (you are thinking perhaps except for the skin color); End of the story. I would argue that a “new Swede” or any new X/Y/Z should be treated even with more respect; because they have worked hard to EARN the right to live in the new country not because they just happened to have been conceived here. If the Swedes don’t want to treat a new citizen equally, there should be no immigration allowed at all. What is the point of demanding a newcomer to work, pay taxes, learn the new language and culture, etc. if in the end all status they will get is an air-quoted, mocked “new Swede”?
(4) And about “I would expect … more laws regarding so called “equality” at work (guaranteed racial diversity rules on boards of companies, for example).” I don’t like enforced equality of outcome, but I do support equality of opportunity. And I believe one should get competent instead of disdaining other competent people. Do you even realize how difficult it is to get to the top of the competence hierarchy to even get considered for such high-end positions? Again, it’s just so convenient to wish to have a less diverse pool of competitors if one does not want to step up their game. But I suspect it’s not even about that, it’s about this mental disease called racism.
(5) Bottom line, Sweden needs to more skilled immigrants if it wants to stay in the game. At the company I work for we have been trying to find one competent developer for several months and there is no one to fill the spot. And you are talking about enforced racial diversity? I have been offered guaranteed positions by two Swedish universities (which I declined), and they have been unable to fill the spots for over a year now. Yes, there is great demand for capable and resourceful people, but I would personally advice any competent person I know against choosing Sweden right now. The political landscape is shifting towards radical right very quickly, and anti-immigration policies will deter competent people from choosing Sweden. It is exactly the lack of immigration that will make Sweden and its “dozens of world-beating and leading-edge companies” to become “it’s over. Done. Finito.”
Totally agree with your response, SR. You’re well-reasoned, thoughtful, and understanding. Unfortunately, the political sphere is not a space of reason – that is why intellectual reasoning has never won. Man, first and foremost, remains an emotional animal, incapable of reasoning.
Thanks for the kind words. I appreciate it.
It is very disappointing to see SD being given oxygen here.
There should be no platform for fascism and no tolerance for intolerance.