Friday, September 08, 2006

The white upper classes and immigrant suburbs in Sweden

The Local:

The white upper classes need to integrate with the rest of Sweden, Lars Ohly has said.

Posh, white Swedes live in areas that are at least as segregated as immigrant suburbs, the Left Party leader told supporters at one of the party's election stands in the up-market Östermalm area of Stockholm on Friday.

He says that Sweden's integration policy should be scrapped.

"It has focused on the idea that the suburbs are the problem. But the problem is the class-ridden society - and the class-ridden society has got a skin colour," Ohly said.

Östermalm is one of Sweden's most ethnically homogenous areas, Ohly argues. The Left Party has compared Östermalm to the immigrant suburb of Rinkeby in northern Stockholm, and noted major differences in education, employment, health and housing. In all categories, Östermalm is streets ahead.

Ohly demanded a joined-up policy to reduce the differences, but said he didn't want to call it an 'integration policy'.

"People should not be able to live in areas where they shut themselves in and shut others out. We want to see diversity," he said.

The Left leader said he would achieve his aims partly through housing policy.

"Build more rental apartments in areas today dominated by owner-occupied apartments and houses, and build houses and owner-occupied apartments in areas where rental apartments now dominate," he said.

The problem with Östermalm and similar areas, Ohly said, was that people who live there do not see reality as experienced by other people, particularly in outlying areas. No set of policies can promise everything to everyone, he said. If those who have least are to have more, those who have most will have to hold back.

"We need therefore to question the privileges held by some people," he said.

The Left Party is one of the current Social Democratic government's partner parties. The party has demanded cabinet posts if the left-wing bloc wins the election.

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