It might be tempting to draw the conclusion that the progressive Pippi Longstockings are dying out in Sweden, while a new generation of aggressive conservatives is taking over. But rather than reflecting any drastic shift in the liberal ethos of Swedes, the election results reveal a more uncomfortable truth: that perhaps Sweden’s supposed liberalism was never that deep to begin with.
Well, of course. I mean, it couldn't possibly be that even the most liberal of them have woken up and smelled the coffee, could it?
Since then, the main representatives of such “dreaded” difference – immigrants and their descendants – have come to constitute a quarter of the population. But many “native” Swedes do not typically mix with them – and flee their neighbourhoods if they move in.
It's hardly surprising; who wants to live in a neighbourhood where the sounds of gunfire and bombing fill the air?
Then there is an unemployment rate among the foreign-born population of almost 20%. Sweden has also seen a surge in shootings and organised crime over the last year.
Feel the enrichment!
The reasons behind the increase in crime are complex – class and social exclusion play an important role – but the result is a political and media debate that focuses on the supposed values or cultures of immigrants themselves.
These sort of values and cultures? When your own values and culture prevent you from resolving mistakes like others have started to, what else to do, but change the people at the top for ones that promise to do so?
What we are seeing in Sweden might, then, not be a newly awakened belligerence, but the result of a longstanding desire for conformity. For what triggers the authoritarian mindset is exactly the narrative that “we” have somehow lost “our unity”. This popular myth in Sweden, together with a widespread fear of difference, is what was most likely to have contributed to the worrying election results in my country.
It's not a 'fear of difference', it's a realisation of that difference, and of the fact that - far from integrating into Swedish culture - a sizeable majority want to continue that culture they enjoyed in the homeland.