Immigration and elections


Sir, – The outgoing Labour leader Brendan Howlin argues that the way to stop populism is for political parties to, in effect, smother debate on immigration “within their own outfits” (“Anti-immigrant candidates fail to make real impact”, News, February 11th).

However, all the evidence indicates that this tactic will ultimately do more harm than good. In Sweden, for instance, the mainstream parties closed their eyes for decades to the problem of integrating into a modern pluralist welfare state large flows of migrants and immigrants. In 1988, a tax-populist party and white nationalists joined together to form the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats. In 2010, the Sweden Democrats won 5.7 per cent of the vote, rising to 18 per cent in 2018. Their gallop was only slowed in 2015, when the centre-left government of Social Democrats and the Green Party initiated restrictions on refugee immigration. In the 2018 general election, all of Sweden’s largest parties adopted platforms calling for reduced immigration in the face of the growth of ghettos in cities like Malmo. By then it was perhaps too late, with Sweden’s welfare system, schools, hospitals and police struggling to cope. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 13.