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Swedish report
by Euro Reporter
2014-05-13 12:13:49
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Sweden refuses entry to Peres’ plane

President Shimon Peres ran into trouble Sunday as his plane attempted to cross Swedish air space en route to Norway. Swedish air authorities refused to let Peres’ plane proceed, forcing pilots into a holding pattern over the Baltic Sea until they were rerouted through Denmark’s airspace. The rerouting caused Peres to arrive late to his official reception in Norway.

Peres’ office blamed the Swedes, while the Foreign Ministry pointed the finger at the President’s Office and Kishrey Teufa, the private company responsible for the president’s travel arrangement on the trip. Kishrey Teufa filed the requests for permission for the plane to traverse the airspace of all the countries through which they were flying. Bulgaria was the first country to balk at the request, unwilling to approve one from a private company. Once Israel’s embassy in Bulgaria filed the request instead, Sofia approved it.

When the craft was flying across Polish airspace Sunday, the pilots contacted Swedish air control to request permission to enter. The Swedish authorities said they had no knowledge of the flight, and refused entry. From the plane, Peres’ advisers tried to solve the problem through the Foreign Ministry and Isaac Bachman, Israel’s ambassador in Sweden, to no avail. Eventually, the pilots gained approval to fly through Danish airspace. The Foreign Ministry underlined that all official flights are meant to go through them. However, Peres’ office said that Sweden had given them approval; the Shin Bet verified that all permissions had been granted, but permission was later revoked for unknown reasons.


Feminist party tipped for first EU Parliament seat

The Feminist Initiative (FI), a Swedish party, may win its first seat in the European Parliament, according to the latest opinion polls published in the national press. FI is currently polling at 4.3% of votes in Sweden, just above the 4% threshold required to win one of the country's 20 seats in the parliament. In 2009, the party got 2.2% of votes.

"This is an incredible development when the party got less than 1% of the votes in the last general election," said Drude Dahlerup, a professor of political science with a focus on gender at Stockholm University. The party doesn't have loyal voters but its approval ratings are lifted by its charismatic party leader Gudrun Schyman, Dahlerup told TV-station SVT. But she added some voters might be disappointed when they realise that Schyman is not on the party's list of candidates for the election.

The feminist party, founded in 2006, has staged controversial political "happenings" in the past, like in July 2010 when it burned 100,000 Swedish crowns (€11,089) in protest against the gender pay gap. Schyman also attracted attention in 2004 when she proposed to introduce what the media dubbed as a "man tax" to collectively punish males for violence against women. Schyman is a former leader of the Left Party in Sweden, suggesting the FI is most likely to join the European United Left–Nordic Green Left parliamentary group if it wins a seat.


Anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats struggle to rouse voters for EU polls

The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats are struggling to mobilize voters before EU parliamentary elections this month despite polls showing similar parties elsewhere heading for their best results ever. Party leader Jimmy Akesson told Reuters on Monday that his party's sympathizers had relatively little interest in European Union politics and he pinned his hopes for a stronger performance in this year's general election. "It is obvious that our voters are very reluctant to vote in European elections," Akesson said by telephone. "We thought maybe it had changed a bit since the last election, but it seems as if our voters are very sceptical about even going and voting." Two polls on Monday put support for the Sweden Democrats on 5.7 percent and 6.3 percent respectively ahead of the EU vote, up from 3.3 percent in 2009. Movements demanding that national governments reclaim power from the European Union are likely to make major gains in the elections taking place between May 22-25.

"Some of those parties, like UKIP, for example, are profiled mainly as an EU-critical party," said Ulf Bjereld, professor of political science at Gothenburg University. "For the average Sweden Democrat voter EU opposition is not why you vote for them, it is because you want another immigration policy." By contrast, a recent poll put Britain's euro-sceptic UKIP at 29 percent, 1 percentage point ahead of the main opposition party, Labour, while in France, the far-right National Front could get 20 to 24 of the vote. Sweden has for generations been seen as a bastion of tolerance, but the economic downturn and worries that the country can no longer afford its generous welfare state have sparked a debate about immigration in recent years. The capital Stockholm was hit by the worst rioting in decades in 2013. In a recent poll for Swedish TV, 44 percent of respondents said the country had taken in too many immigrants, up from 37 percent a year ago. The Sweden Democrats, who have distanced themselves from Sweden's far-right under Akesson's leadership, have seen their support surge.

"I think we are between 9-14 percent now and it is very feasible that we end up there," Akesson said. The latest polls ahead of Sweden's general election in September show the Sweden Democrats backed by around 8 percent of voters, up from 5.7 percent in the election in 2010. "Today... people are making the connection between the (immigration) problem and the rising cost of welfare, the fall in school results and so on," said Akesson, who wants to cut immigration by 80-90 percent. Sweden took in around 29,000 asylum seekers in 2013, three times the figure from 2005. Akesson said the mainstream parties may have to listen to the Sweden Democrats' message on immigration in coming years. "A vote for us a very clear signal to the other parties that voters are unhappy with the immigration policy," he said. "The more votes we get, the more difficult it becomes for the other parties to maintain the policies they have now."

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