Another chapter in Swedish political hypocrisy (2007 edition)

A few years ago, Gudrun Schyman, then-leader of Sweden's left-wing party, Vänsterpartiet ("The Left Party"), was forced to resign after it was revealed that she had been cheating on her taxes for at least five years, specifically by claiming fake deductions. This was particularly ironic because, as the left-wing party, Vänsterpartiet is heavily pro-taxation.

The latest news from Sweden comes from the opposite end of the political spectrum. The far right-wing party Sverigedemokraterna ("The Sweden Democrats"), which has an anti-immigrant platform, have complained that 10% of immigrants live on government assistance, double the rate of native Swedes. Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet did some legwork and calculated that nearly 20% of Sverigedemokraterna members live on government assistance, and over a third receive partial government assistance. (In English, and less sensationally written.)

If you dare to click through to the Swedish version, I can at least try to translate the chart: The left hand column shows the average annual income of members of the various parties (sd = Sverigedemokraterna) in Swedish kronor. The right hand column shows the percentage of members with, um, something; having trouble translating. It literally means "payment notices" but I'm not sure what that means. The white boxes marked "Riket" show the national averages. And the little graph in the lower left corner shows the percentage of sd members (compared to the national average) who owe money to the Swedish Enforcement Authority, which collects fines, fees, taxes, legal judgments, and similar monetary obligations.

No scandal article from Aftonbladet is complete without some mean-spirited fun, and in this case, they decided to add some new data to a bar chart taken from one of Sverigedemokraterna's political pamphlets.

Nitpicker's corner

There's plenty of hypocrisy in United States politics, too.

Comments (18)
  1. Sohail says:

    There is a reason most politicians are also businessmen (vs cubicle monkeys.) It is the rare politician who really wants to serve his constituents.

    BTW, I love reading your blog. You must be an incredible conversationalist.

  2. Fredrik says:

    The "payment notices" is something you don’t want to have in Sweden. Basically, if you don’t pay your bills, you will get a reminder. If you still don’t pay, if the supplier (the landlord, electricity company, phone company, …) is nice, you will get another reminder. If you still don’t pay, the supplier will apply at the "Kronofogden" (Swedish Enforcement Administration) to collect the money. This is registered. Whenever you want to make open a new cell phone subscription, buy an internet connection subscription, rent and apartment, pretty much anything that means that you get some sort of credit from a company, the supplier will run a check, and these things will show up. If you have one or more of these you are immediately considered to be a bit suspicious, and some companies will just plain refuse to do business with you.

  3. A swede says:

    The ‘payment notice’ count the number of times they have defaulted on a loan or payed a bill late enough that it’s been handled by a collection agency.

  4. Nathan says:

    Or do you read as a part of expanding the languages you speak ? (Guess I should get to work on reading Le Monde, always wanted to learn French..)

    Oh, and Sohail, I’m sure Ray’s a fun guy to talk to, so long as he’s not yelling at you ;)

  5. David Walker says:

    Good thing you added the Nitpicker’s Corner; otherwise, we would be compelled to point out that US Politicians Are Hypocritical Too.

  6. Jonas says:

    Du har ju 100% koll pa vad som hander i Sverige, mycket imponerande!!!

    Sverige "demokraterna" ar hyckleriet personifierat. Problemet ar bara att dom inte forstar det sjalva…



  7. Jag skulle vilja påstå att extremvänstern och extremhögern i Sverige är ungefär lika knäppa båda två, skillnaden är att extremvänstern är representerad i riksdagen med två partier, medans extremhögern inte är det.

    Tack för en utmärkt blogg, Raymond!

  8. Boo says:

    So basically the supporters of parties that pander to white trash are, themselves, white trash.

  9. Colbert says:

    Boo: Typical east-coast Ivy League-educated liberal-elitist response.

  10. Jack V. says:

    By the way, I love nitpickers corner. I don’t know if it works at all (with a large number of readers, no-one can resist), but it’s always funny, and does serve as a little reminder to me at any rate of what comments won’t actually add anything.

  11. Tim says:

    Re Jack V.

    I’m the opposite, because I don’t normally comment or read the comments anyway.

  12. Anon says:

    Is this really hypocrisy though? In the UK, the far right BNP gets most of it’s support from people who are economically marginalised. So they tend to live in areas with cheap or state owned housing, lots of crime and lots of asylum seekers (because of the cheap/state housing). They also have a higher chance of being on benefits.

    Given that there is limited amount of resources for state benefits so people effectively compete for them, and asylum seekers often have priority, is it really surprising that people like this are less tolerant of immigration than people who never have to deal with the benefit system?

    It seems that it’s only hypocrisy of you think that the asylum seekers have a right to UK benefits, and most BNP supporters don’t agree with this – I suppose they want entitlement to be restricted to people who have paid enough tax to fund benefits, and no more asylum seekers be admitted. You may or may not agree with this position, and it is certainly somewhat selfish, but it is not hypocritical.

    Now central government does believe that asylum seekers should be able to claim benefits, in fact it signed up to the 1951 UN Refugee convention which means it has to, but the actually financial cost is passed to local government.

    If anything, I’d say that the hypocrisy lies with people in middle class areas who support the idea that asylum seekers can claim benefits, but move to areas which are too expensive to house them so their taxes are not affected, and their kids can go to schools where ethnic minorities are under represented rather than over represented.

    [My read was that they were complaining, “Kick out the immigrants! They are bad because they use social services too much!” Except that they (presumably “real Swedes”) were using services even more than those pesky immigrants. -Raymond]
  13. Hehe, thanks for keeping me updated on Sweden too, Raymond. There’s a lot written about SD in Sweden these days but this was the funniest (especially the last chart).

    I guess I kind of agree with Wilhelm, it seems the further from the middle ground you stray, the more nuts you are (become). Now all we have to do is define the middle…

  14. Norman Diamond says:

    Tuesday, May 22, 2007 10:27 AM by A swede

    > The ‘payment notice’ count the number of times

    > they have defaulted on a loan or payed a bill

    > late enough that it’s been handled by a

    > collection agency.

    They deserve congratulations.  In contrast, in some countries, payment notices count the number of times that the victim has been *accused* of defaulting or paying late.  Every libel, including accusations submitted by criminal operators, counts against the victim.

    Meanwhile in a country that can’t be named (since it’s neither Sweden nor US), a politician who was in charge of reforming the pension system didn’t pay his pension premiums, and an actress who was hired for TV commercials trying to persuade people to pay their pension premiums didn’t pay hers.

  15. Leif Arne Storset says:

    The article and the survey were about Sverigedemokratarne politicians, not party members. I’m not sure if this makes it more hypocritical or not, but I’m betting that the politicians *have* read the party program.

    "Men i en unik kartläggning kan Aftonbladet visa att de folkvalda sd-politikerna själva kostar välfärden miljonbelopp och att nära 20 procent av dem lever på sjukpension."

    "But in a unique survey Aftonbladet can show that the elected SD politicians themselves cost welfare services millions of kronor and that almost 20 % live on welfare for health reasons."

    Disclaimer: I’m not Swedish, but being Norwegian I read it easily.

  16. Mr. Potter says:

    Is "White Trash" some special sort of trash?

  17. Alex Cohn says:

    Isn’t it natural, after all? People who receive social assistance are more sensitive to how it is distributed, aren’t they? So much for the "international unity of the suppressed class".

  18. MHolmgren says:

    WTF, are you swedish Raymond?

    [WTF, are you lazy MHolmgren? -Raymond]

Comments are closed.