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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.

Jimmie Åkesson interview: 'If you don't want to be part of Sweden, then you cannot live here'
Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson arriving at a press conference in the parliament in April. Photo: Sofia Ekström/SvD/TT

In early May, the former pariah party teamed up with the right-wing Moderate, Liberal, and Christian Democrat parties to propose a joint proposal on migration, once a topic where any coordination with the Sweden Democrats would have been off-limits for any party.

The membership of the centrist Liberal Party in March voted for a new policy position, under which the party would be willing to join a government backed by the Sweden Democrats.

And less than four years after Anna Kinberg Batra was ousted as leader of the Moderates for daring to suggest even talking with the Sweden Democrats, her successor Ulf Kristersson argues that on subjects such as immigration and crime, the two parties think alike.

The former centre-right “Alliance” of the Moderates, Liberals, Christian Democrats and the Centre Party had already crumbled after the 2018 election over disagreement on whether or not to rely on the tacit support of the Sweden Democrats – a populist party with roots in neo-Nazi groups in the 1980s – to clear the way for a centre-right government.

Now all but the Centre Party has decided that they are now willing to do so, the way is open to Kristersson becoming prime minister in Sweden with the backing of the Sweden Democrats, following next year’s election.

But that would almost certainly give the anti-immigration party the power to fell the government at will.

In an interview with The Local’s contributor Richard Orange, carried out over Skype from his home in Sölvesborg, southern Sweden, Åkesson said that he planned to use this power responsibly. 

You and three of the former Alliance parties recently presented a new migration policy. What is the significance of that?

I think that was a very important signal to the governing parties that we now have the four opposition parties that are able to negotiate and to make proposals in common. I think it shows that there is an alternative in the next election, and while we don’t have the same views on everything, we can negotiate and are able to make common proposals. That’s the most important thing, I think, even though this will probably not pass.

I don’t think this is a very good proposal. Actually, I want to take it much further. But this was what was possible. The big value here is the signal that we are able to negotiate and make common proposals. But of course, if I win the election, I have my policies that are much better, I think.

Before the last election, populist parties were on the rise everywhere, and there’s an argument that now the pandemic has made people want safe, centrist, dependable leaders, the Angela Merkels of the world, and that parties like yours will struggle. Do you think that’s true?

We have managed quite well, even though we have lost some votes to the Social Democrats. But I was actually a bit afraid at the beginning of the pandemic that we would lose a lot.

Of course, it has strengthened the Social Democrats very much, and I think you’re right that people are seeking experienced leaders, but I think we still have a good starting point. There will be no problems for us to go into the next election and win back at least some of those who left us for the Social Democrats, because in the election campaign there will be a lot of debates about migration policy and how to push back crime. 

We haven’t really had that debate during the pandemic, but I’m sure it will come back, because that’s the reality for many voters, so they will demand that we discuss it during the campaign. 

Jimmie Åkesson in the background, with Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson and Christian Democrat leader Ebba Busch in the foreground. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

I’ve been in Sweden about 10 years, and in that time, the attitude to migration has changed significantly. It’s only three years ago that Anna Kinberg Batra had to resign just because she said she wanted to hold some discussions with your party. What’s changed? 

Maybe she was before her time, or maybe she did it in the wrong way. Ulf Kristersson has managed to say almost the same things and take it further, and he also got his party with him, which Anna Kinberg Batra didn’t. She was quite a weak leader in that party actually, and I think a big part of the party wanted to get rid of her, and they took advantage of that opportunity. 

I think after Kinberg Batra resigned, the Moderates got a lot of people working for them that have a different view on us and on the most important issues. Ulf Kristersson has different advisors. It’s that simple. 

But I think it would have happened anyway, because the Moderate Party realises that if they want to be in government again, they need to either negotiate with us, or with the Social Democrats. That’s the alternative. 

The Danish People’s Party was in a similar position in relation to the Liberal party back in 2001. And they used that position, as I’m sure you know, to make huge changes in Denmark. And do you think that you can do something similar in Sweden?

I’m sure we can. I think that the Danish example is a good example, because they showed that they could have really great influence, even though they were not in the government. But I also think that our goal is to be a part of the government. That’s the goal. But we also realise that maybe it’s not possible this time, maybe we have to show that we are a party that wants to take responsibility for real, that we’re not a populist party, like many think we are.

Maybe we need four years to show that we are mature enough to be part of a government. But the goal of course is still to be part of the government and to be maybe the bigger party in the government. 

Looking at Denmark, again, it’s not just policy that they changed, but the whole debate in Denmark, if you look at the way people in Denmark talk about immigration. It’s forced every party, even the Social Democrats, to take a hard-line position compared to Sweden. Do you think that the Swedish public can be shifted in that way?

Public opinion is in our favour and has been for decades. That’s not the problem. The problem has been that the old parties haven’t followed that [public] opinion, and I think we are the result of that. We came into parliament 11 years ago because the authorities didn’t want to talk about important issues like immigration and bad integration policy. 

So I’m not very afraid of public opinion. But I am a bit afraid that both the Social Democrats and the Moderates do not really understand the problems and the level of the problems. I think they have changed mainly because they wanted to take back voters from us, and they say things they realised they have to say, because otherwise we will take almost all the voters, so I think that their change wasn’t very genuine, at the beginning, at least.

Now, I’ve spoken to Ulf Kristersson about this several times, I’m quite sure that he’s genuine now in his beliefs and in what he says about migration. I think that’s why it will be possible to have some kind of cooperation with them [the Moderates] in the future. 

The Social Democrats are still dependent on the Green Party, and the Green Party is very liberal on those issues, especially immigration policy. 

Jimmie Åkesson being interviewed by Swedish newspapers. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Do you think Sweden can be another Denmark, that it can go from being very liberal to having a very strict policy and very harsh rhetoric on immigration? 

I’m sure we will go that far. But we’re just, well, Denmark is ahead of us by, like, 20 years or so. That proposal we presented with the other opposition parties on the weekend. That’s the policy they had in Denmark 10 years ago. So we are catching up. 

Sweden actually needs a stricter policy than Denmark because we have much bigger problems and we have let the problems grow for a very long time. We have always said since we got into parliament that we need to have immigration at Danish levels. But now that that’s passed, I think it’s not possible to just decrease it to Danish levels any more. We need more. We need to take it further.

The Social Democrats in Denmark have been in the news a lot recently for wanting to send Syrians back to Syria. Can you see that happening in Sweden? 

They are doing the right thing. I think parts of Syria are safe. Syrian refugees who haven’t become established in society, they should be forced to return because that’s how it should work.

If you have an asylum policy that is built upon the idea of giving them temporary shelter, then when it’s safe to go home, they should go home. I think Denmark is doing the right thing and I am sure more countries will follow, but I’m also sure that Sweden will not follow in any way.

With the Sweden Democrats, unlike UKIP [the United Kingdom Independence Party] and other populist parties, some of the founders had been in neo-Nazi groups. Why did you join a party like that? 

The picture that you have, and most people in Sweden and other countries have, is not the whole truth. It’s true that we had some individuals in the beginning with that kind of background. But it’s also true that they are not still with us. They haven’t been members for about 30 years or so. The very great majority of our members are quite new members. So the Sweden Democrats today is a very different party from the party that was founded in the late 80s. 

Internally today, that’s not something we talk about or discuss because it’s not interesting for us. But of course, our political opponents talk about that a lot. I think that is because they don’t want to talk about the real problems and the real issues, and it’s very easy, then, to call us racists or neo-Nazis or whatever.

A Sweden Democrat rally in 1991. The sign reads “no to voting rights for foreigners”. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

What drew you to the party, when you were a student at Lund, at a time when it did have those elements? 

It didn’t actually. In 95, I actually joined the party after we got a new chairman. That was important to me, because that new chairman, he was very clear that we would build a new kind of Sweden Democrats, without extremism or racism and that we would have this very, very straight line against that. And that was important because I could take part in that project, to clean up the party. And I’m quite proud of that today, because we really did clean up the party. 

Although I’m sure in this election, like in every election, the media will find lots of party members who say racist things on Facebook

Maybe not that many, because I think it’s a decreasing problem. We are very clear that it’s not okay to be a racist and a member of our party, so they go to some other party or extremist organisation instead of being with us, because they’re not welcome. Of course, you will always find one or two, but it’s not a big problem today. We have 40,000 members around the country and the absolute majority of them are normal people with normal views. 

What drew me to the party was actually the referendum in late ’94 about the European Union. I couldn’t find any party that was against Swedish membership that wasn’t socialist. It was only the socialists and the greens that were against it and so I found the Sweden Democrats. So it was actually the EU issue that drew me into this party.

During the Brexit campaign, you were saying that Sweden should do the same thing as former UK Prime Minister David Cameron and order a renegotiation followed by an in-out referendum, and then you dropped that when it turned out to be pretty difficult. How do you think it looks now, a year after Britain left? 

Many Swedes and I think many other eurosceptic Europeans have been more or less frightened by the complicated process that Britain was in so that has weakened the EU debate. It’s quite hard today to talk about leaving the EU, because of what happened to Britain. 

But I think Britain will have benefits from Brexit in the long term. I’m sure they will. When you look at the vaccine, for example, Britain should be very happy not to rely on Brussels. 

But I also think that the EU issue is a dead issue in Sweden, there is no debate, and there is no political party within parliament that is talking about leaving. But of course, I’m a social conservative, and I’m also a nationalist, so of course, I have big problems with Swedish law being in Brussels. Swedish laws should be made by Swedish politicians in Sweden. That’s my principal view on it. But today, it’s not a very big thing, I think. 

Jimmie Åkesson has been leader of the Sweden Democrats since 2005. This picture is from 2006. Photo: Roger Vikström/TT

You said that during the US election that Trump would have been a better president. Again, that’s something that isn’t going to win you any votes in Sweden. 

Probably not. But I also think that I have to be honest, even though I’m a politician, I have to say what I really think. I don’t really like Trump as a person, and in Sweden, it would be impossible for him to be a part of any election and get elected. It wouldn’t happen. And I probably wouldn’t vote for him in a Swedish election either. But as I am a conservative, I always prefer a Republican president, because I look at myself as a part of that movement internationally. So it was quite obvious for me to support Trump, even though I don’t like everything he does. 

Before the pandemic, I think it looked quite good. He did a lot of the things he promised to do, and I think he was quite a popular president. What lost the election was probably the pandemic and his way of handling it. Otherwise, I think he would have been a possible winner, actually.

You say that you think that Sweden should have zero refugees. Do you think you can bring the other parties around to that and how would you make that happen, given the quota refugees in international law? 

If we implement the international law that we are bound by strictly, I think it’s possible, because we have no conflicts in our area, here in the north of Europe. And that’s the way the system is supposed to work: you go to the first safe country. Sweden is not the first safe country for any of those refugees coming to Sweden today. So I think it will be possible to follow the international conventions and everything and, and have zero asylum immigration in Sweden. 

On the other hand, if we got some kind of conflict, for example, in the Baltic countries – it’s not impossible – then we would have a big responsibility, to take care of refugees and immigrants from the Baltic countries. That’s how it’s supposed to work, I think. 

Sweden is and should be a country that gives a lot of aid, and money to, for example, the UN to take care of refugees in the near area. We should prioritise helping people in the areas nearby to conflicts.

Whether you like it or not, Sweden has become a pretty multicultural country over the last 30 years. What’s your vision for how those people should relate to Sweden, if you were in government?

I think a big part of the problem is that we haven’t made any demands. People have for decades just come to Sweden, and they have had no reason to adapt or assimilate, to learn Swedish, or to get a job, because of the welfare system.

If you make demands, if you tell people who come here that you have to adapt, you have to be a part of Sweden, you have to learn Swedish, you have to understand how we work, you have to understand and respect Swedish law and all those things, then I think it will be much easier to integrate people, and governments haven’t done that. I think it’s possible to go in another direction.

Almost two million people in Sweden were born abroad. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

In terms of concrete policies, what sort of things could you discuss with the Moderate Party? 

One thing we are discussing right now is all the benefits you get if you move to Sweden. We want to relate them more to citizenship, so you have to be a citizen to get all those benefits, or you have to work so you can qualify for them. Today, just by living here, you get the right to very, very generous benefits. 

But if you take them away, aren’t you pushing children into poverty, and people outside of society so that you make gang crime worse? 

I think it’s the opposite. We have tried this generous way for decades now. And we have segregation, we have criminal gangs, and we have poor children, and I think that’s because of the lack of demands. 

I don’t know how many people have been moving to Sweden just because of all the benefits they enjoy, but I’m sure it’s a lot. If we don’t have that generous system, then we will not have as many coming. And maybe some of those who have been established in the Swedish society, maybe they will move to another country where they have better benefits. 

If you want to be a part of Sweden in the long term, that should be possible. But you have to make efforts to be part of Sweden, and that’s up to you. It’s not up to the Swedish society, or our system, to assimilate people. It’s up to every individual to be a part of it. And if you don’t want to be a part of Sweden, well, then you won’t get the benefits, and then you cannot live here.

The Liberal Party have said they wouldn’t want a January Agreement type of agreement [with the Sweden Democrats], and you have said you want to go further. Do you think that they could block you from having the influence that you want? 

It depends on the voters. It’s the voters that decide which parties have influence or not. But of course, I think the January Agreement is a very bad product. It was made very fast. And today the parties don’t even agree on what they have actually agreed on.

What I said was that if we are not in government, but are supposed to support the government, then we need some kind of document with details, on what to do and how to do it, and when it should be done. Because if we are not in government, we need to be able to make sure that the things we agree on also become reality. And that’s why I think we want to take the agreement further than the January Agreement, because that’s not a good agreement, but we need a good agreement.

Sweden’s party leaders. From left: Stefan Löfven (Social Democrats), Märta Stenevi (Greens), Annie Lööf (Centre), Nyamko Sabuni (Liberals), Ebba Busch (Christian Democrats), Nooshi Dadgostar (Left), Jimmie Åkesson (Sweden Democrats) and Ulf Kristersson (Moderates). Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

What kind of things would you like to have in it? What would be your wish list?

[That’s something] I will tell Ulf Kristersson. But, of course, it’s the issues that are important for our voters, particularly, of course, immigration policy, integration policy, crime policy, and especially punishment. The energy question is such an important thing in Sweden today, and also the welfare system. 

I think that’s our most important role in the team that we want to be part of: they are right-wing parties, the Moderates and the Christian Democrats and the Liberals, and we are not, at least not when it comes to economic issues. We like the Swedish welfare model. We like to have quite a big state to ensure that people have healthcare and things like that, and on that we don’t agree with the Moderates. So that will be a tough negotiation, of course.

It’s important that if we have this right-wing government that we act as a kind of a gatekeeper so they won’t be too much to the right. Just to keep the Swedish model.

It’s taken a long time to get to the point where the other parties are willing to talk to you. How come you’re still in charge of the party, and that you’ve kept at it for so long?

I’ve always said that I would rather do something else than this. Actually. This is more of a duty. I think because we had a situation in Sweden where no one talked about those things. 

Then of course, if you are isolated as we have been, that makes you strong within the group. And I think if you are sure that some day the other parties had to change. We have had Denmark as inspiration. Denmark was the same way as Sweden, and then it just changed overnight. And that will happen in Sweden too.

Every day it’s in the right direction. We are growing, we get more and more members, more and more voters, and more and more influence. And as long as that’s the case, it’s quite easy to keep on doing this.

After the last election, you had to take time off because of exhaustion. Did you not think that might be a good time to hand over to someone else?

Yes, of course I thought about that. But I also made it clear to the party and to the public that I had to take some time off because I want to continue. If I hadn’t taken that time off, maybe I could have done this for a couple more years, but then I probably would have been sick for the rest of my life. So I took five, almost six months, no television, no newspapers. Nothing. And then I felt I can come back and do it even better, and I think that’s the case. 

My kind of sickness is not something that you can get rid of, you have to learn to live with it. We had another Social Democrat in the government, who got the same problem at the same time, so we made it easier for other people in our positions to actually listen to the signals from their bodies and things like that. So I think it was good for me, and it was good also for the discussion about men’s mental health. 

If you look at what’s happened to the Danish People’s Party when they decided not to go into government, they’ve been destroyed. But if you look at the Finns party in Finland, and also the Progress Party, they have suffered from going into government. What do you think about that? 

It depends on your goals, I think. But if you look at the Progress Party in Norway, I’m not sure they have been punished. I think they are almost the same size as they were when they got into the government, and if you look at The Finns, that was more complicated. They were in a coalition where they didn’t agree on very much. I actually talked to Kristian [Thulesen Dahl], who’s the chairman of the Danish People’s Party, when they made that decision not to be a part of the government. I think that he had a good point when he said that we’re not mature to be a part of a government this time, because they had grown very fast.

But I think the main reason they declined so much is that the Social Democrats in Denmark copied the Danish People’s Party, especially on migration. 

Our goal is to be part of the government, but on the other hand, it’s the policy that’s really important. What can we get out of having influence? We want to be in government, because, of course, you have a lot of power if you’re in government. But you can have a lot of influence even outside and I think Denmark is a very good example of that.

Do you think that you could come out as one of the biggest parties in the next election?

I think it’s possible to be at least number two. We saw before the election in 2018 that we were the biggest party in a lot of polls. And then we had problems in the last weeks before the election. And that’s because the Social Democrats always win elections, they are always the biggest party and they know how to how to campaign, and how to use the unions and the parts of society where they have a big influence.

We don’t have the unions with us, so I think it will be hard. But right before the pandemic, we actually were the biggest party in the polls. So maybe when things come back to normal, we’ll see that again. It’s not impossible.

It will be a big symbolic victory for us if we become the biggest party in that new possible coalition. It’s interesting for us to become bigger than the Moderates, because that will change things when we are negotiating. 

Member comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

    2. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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?

    2. 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.

      1. 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…

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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).

        2. 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?


          1. 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.


        3. Hi,

          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.


        4. Hi,
          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.


  5. 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. (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.”

      1. 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.

  6. It is very disappointing to see SD being given oxygen here.
    There should be no platform for fascism and no tolerance for intolerance.

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Sweden asks Nato to focus more on China to win US support

Sweden has called for Nato to step up efforts on China as a way to ensure support from the United States, where presidential candidate Donald Trump has loudly criticized the alliance.

Sweden asks Nato to focus more on China to win US support

In Washington for the 75th anniversary summit of the alliance, the top diplomat of its newest member said a Nato without the United States would be “unthinkable” and lack credibility.

“If you want your partner to think about the things you think are a problem, you have to show commitment to their problems, and the American people are more concerned with the threat that China poses than Russia, for obvious reasons,” Foreign Minister Tobias Billström said.

The alliance needs to keep facing Russia but Asia “should also be recognized as part of Nato’s concerns, headaches,” he said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Billström said that Sweden – which turned the page on two centuries of military non-alignment and joined Nato after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – threw support behind the alliance opening a liaison office in Tokyo.

France has been the main opponent of such an office, arguing that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is limited in geographic scope and can rely on allies’ embassies if it needs to coordinate.

Trump, who is seeking to return to the White House, has repeatedly called Nato an unfair burden to the United States, with some of his advisors arguing that Ukraine is a distraction from a larger challenge of China.

President Joe Biden has encouraged a greater focus by Nato on Asia and invited the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand to the summit in Washington.

China earlier Tuesday lashed out at Nato, with foreign ministry spokesman Lin Jian accusing the alliance of using “China as an excuse to move eastward into the Asia-Pacific and stir up regional tensions.”

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the summit renewed charges that China is supporting Russia’s war in Ukraine through exports to Moscow’s defense industry.