My take on Swedish election – Why intolerance is not the answer, by anyone…

I just started taking a distance course in ICT for collaborative communication. It's quite interesting and started with an "assumptions" game, where we were making assumptions about our fellow classmates virtually based on very limited information. It highlighted both how assumptions can be a useful tool, but also how they (especially cultural ones) can go wrong.

An assumption many made of me is that I'm disinterested in politics. I guess it was my international classmates' perception of Swedes in general that formed them (and they wouldn't be completely wrong – at least not with the people they had engaged with from the engineering faculties). Compared to India, Swedes are definitely disinterested.

Well, in order to challenge that assumption, I'll make a comment about the current political situation in Sweden. Yesterday was the parliamentary elections in Sweden and a right wing, anti-immigration party called the Swedish Democrats (SD) got 20 seats or 5.7% of the vote. It's quite an upset because this means that neither of the other main political blocks have an outright majority and thus cannot form a government. 

So, what has the response from people been before and after the election to this? Well, I haven't been able to follow Swedish media very closely, however I have downloaded my Facebook feeds daily and read them thoroughly and my conclusion from that is that the response, overwhelmingly has been one of intolerance

This frustrates me, and while I don't believe the least bit in the opinions or aspirations of the "Swedish Democrats", I do think they have the right to express their opinion. Likewise do people have the full right to vote for them. Period. 

Comments of intolerance against the party or the people who voted for it just doesn't ring very correct to me. 

The response, rather than being "get those bastards out of parliament", "shut them up" or whatever it might be, should be "what is the driver behind the opinions that people have expressed by voting for this party?". Democracy is about dialogue. So instead of demonizing (or asking the people who voted for SD to "move somewhere else" as I saw an enlightened Facebook post say), I'd ask to engage in dialogue. If engaging in dialogue with the party itself is too much for you to stomach, then engage with people around you, with people you don't know, and with people who voted for the party. 

A failure on your behalf of expressing or engaging with the issues or problems that makes people choose this party is well, a failure on your part. The answer to such a failure is introspection about why your story (which is about a multicultural society I assume) isn't reaching those 5.7%.

Not to try to "eradicate" SD, nor to get the people who voted for them to "relocate". 

2 thoughts on “My take on Swedish election – Why intolerance is not the answer, by anyone…

  1. I am really not sure of what they say in the party, but I do believe that freedom of speech has a limit (for example, promoting racism or social discrimination of any sort). I would not be very happy if I saw a nazi party or something.

    But I do agree intolerance is not the answer (for both sides).

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