As the German parliamentary elections are winding down with the far right AfD taking place in the Bundestag for the first time, their cousins in Sweden, the Sweden Democrats, swerve towards scandal. Europa United Editor Adam Snygg reports.
The newspaper Expressen (“The Express”) and the TV4 program Kalla Fakta (“Cold Facts”) have done a joint report describing chilling instances of serious sexual harassment within the party’s parliamentary group. This includes, but is not limited to, a male Sweden Democratic member of parliament having pressed his colleague Hanna Wigh against a wall in their party headquarters and forced himself on her sexually. Wigh has left the party, sitting now in the Riksdag, the Swedish parliament, as an independent. She is not alone. The Sweden Democrats have had a long list of political desertions, including a close friend of Wigh, Maddelen Larsson, who seems to have been exposed to the same sort of acts of harassment but have refused to talk to the media about the events.
Iron pipe Eric
Wigh has also reported that when she went to the Sweden Democratic party leader Jimmie Åkesson he dismissed her out of hand, saying he was “disappointed, angry and disappointed” in her for having reported to the party what had happened to her. She goes on to claim that this isn’t unusual in the party and that she herself has had to comfort a female colleague who had been subject to an attempted rape. This is far from the first time that the Sweden Democrats have had to combat scandal.
Another MEP had been accused of rape during the political expo that is held at Almedalen each year and, perhaps most notably, the “Iron Pipe Scandal” when the then Swedish Democratic second in command Erik Almqvist and party top Kent Ekeroth (who remains high up in the party) armed themselves with iron pipes after having called a Swedish comedian with Kurdish background a “baboon” and a Swedish woman defending him a “whore” and a “wog lover”.
Perhaps most chillingly, the grassroots level of the Sweden Democrats has acted with all the subtlety and understanding of a rabid bull, having thrown rocks into the window of Hanna Wighs own apartment and agitated online against her, claiming she was a liar, a “traitor” and that she made her claims for money. Some active in the party have also made accusations that the whole scandal is perpetrated by a jewish conspiracy, making the claims that the Sweden Democrats has left their anti-semitic roots behind very hollow. No one in the party has offered support publicly to Hanna Wigh.
Abusing the natives
This scandal here at the outskirts of Europe make it clear once again that the far right is a hypocritical organisation, making xenophobic claims about “protecting native women” while not being able and willing to protect even women within their own parliamentary group. It also shows the deep levels of unfairness that the far right operates under, as they whether scandal after scandal where other parties lose support after even relatively innocent crimes. Trump was elected president of the United States even after having bragged about sexually harassing women, the Sweden Democratic party leadership can go out and hunt comedians with iron pipes without repercussions.
But all that aside, one scandal could be excused but the constant, almost regular, stream of scandals shows that something is very seriously wrong with the Sweden Democrats as a party and the angry, vengeful reaction from the Sweden Democratic grassroots to Wighs claims shows that it isn’t only the party leadership that are infected.
And lastly I want to say that even if I do not share their political beliefs and find it abhorrent that these women have supported the Sweden Democrats in parliament I offer my greatest sympathies. No one should have to endure this kind of harassment and I hope, though with limited faith, that the perpetrators will get punished.