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Fresh wave of arson hits Sweden ahead of elections

Up to 100 cars and a conservative election tent have been torched in a fresh wave of arson sweeping across Sweden over the weekend. Swedes will be heading to the polls next month in an election that will be watched closely around the world.

Published: August 21, 2018, 1:52 pm

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    A fire in a parking garage in the Gränby district of Uppsala spread from two cars to as many as 100, according to officials and was “probably” started intentionally.

    “The extinguishing work was easily done, but the consequences have been more extensive,” says Magnus Skyttberg, management operator at Storstockholm’s rescue center.

    “It was two cars that were burning, but the garage contained around 100 cars which have been damaged to a greater or lesser extent by the heat. The fire was contained in the garage the whole time,” Bosse Eriksson, a spokesman for Uppsala emergency services, said.

    At least eight more cases of arson have been registered, mostly around Gothenburg where one and three vehicles were burned per incident, Göteborgs Posten reported.

    A police spokeswoman has blamed the arson attacks on “back-to-school” unrest. “That’s what reality has seen in recent years before school starts,” Ulla Brehm said. “It’s sad but nothing the police can work preventively with, we can not be in all parking lots all the time.”

    In yet another election-related incident, approximately ten suspected Antifa members “dressed in black” burned down the Swedish Democrat party’s (SD) election kiosk. A preliminary investigation into the incident has been launched by the Western Regional Police, SVT reported.

    A police spokesman said that “there were several tents there and there was a great risk of spreading to the tents as well”.

    SD president in Gothenburg, Jörgen Fogelklou, said in a statement: “It’s complete idiocy. They have put people’s lives and health at stake.

    “They are completely confused if they think the destruction of this material will make us quiet. The great cost will be paid to Gothenburg taxpayers. We have borrowed this tent from the city of Gothenburg. It was no ordinary tent, it was huge with electricity and a floor.”

    The Swedish Greens condemned the violence. They released a statement saying: “Even though we in the Green Party are far from Sweden Democrats’ policies, we strongly abstain from attempts to threaten, scare or destroy political opponents.”

    The SD may beat both the Moderates and the Social Democrats to become Sweden’s largest party a poll from Yougov has shown.

    Commissioned by Metro, the SD could become the largest party with 25.2 percent, a political survey has shown for the first time ever. Social Democrats could win at 23.4 percent and Moderates 21.0 percent, Yougov’s poll noted. A total of 1 527 interviews were conducted via Yougov’s self-recruited online panel of men and women 18-74 years.

    Sören Holmberg is a professor of political science at the University of Gothenburg.

    “This is not very surprising. We have seen this tendency for a long time, that SD is about to increase. And the reason for it is very simple,” says Sören Holmberg.

    He believes that one factor of the increased support for SD shows, among other things, that 46 percent of voters think that refugee and immigration issues are the most important political issue at the moment, according to Yougov’s survey.

    “It also turns out that crime is an important factor motivating support for SD. We have had a lot of discussion over the past few weeks with a number of nasty killing cases that, among other things, proved to have involved in refugee and immigration issues,” says Sören Holmberg.

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