There is a growing hunger for independence and self-determination at the grassroots level of Sweden, against the big political power center of Stockholm and the European Union headquarters in Brussels. It’s the classic tale of centralized decisions, far away from the people it affects. Add a dash of little to no respect for what these mandates do to the people daring to live outside the reach of the elites palaces and Parade streets. Are the times of separatism at the horizon?
Rich in natural resources, the majority producer of electricity in the country and, due to population size, very vulnerable to political policy: The Northern territory of Swedens (Norrland) blessings and their curse. A poll showed that 41% of the inhabitants of Norrland wants to break free from the bonds of the Urbanised parts of the country, a natural by-product of a democratic parliamentary system where the population density of the big cities sets the agenda for the rest of the country.
This is very similar to the so-called “Coastal Elites” in the United States. The Swedish and American rural populations share the same problems of orders coming from a place unfamiliar with your specific position and those decrees can change your life without you having a say in the matter: When the Green Party in Stockholm talks about green energy, its the northerners rivers that take the toll of the capitols thirsty neon signs and other forms of luxury energy consumption. It is their nature that has to make room for the wind turbines.
The same politicians and their allies then add fuel taxes in order to reign in rampant and unnecessary car usage in the cities, but the fuel taxes hurt the ones that don’t have an option to take a subway or a bus the most. The ones living in rural areas get the dubious honor of shouldering the cost for the city-folks.
Prime Minister Stefan Löfvén made a tour back in 2016 to Norrland and gave plenty of promises to support the area, in a weak wristed bid to try and calm down the dissident waves that are starting to splash on his suit. Promises of regional focus were made, but that was mostly a sort of political theater. A new fuel tax, however, was implemented. More timber logged, hydropower increased, wind power expanded, and propaganda articles manufactured on the impossibility of independence for the northerners.
“Nothing to see here citizen, continue to get farmed for your resources”. Business as usual.
Even if “Nexit” (Norrland Exit) doesn’t have a coherent movement, the potential for one is there – Enough people are walking with closed fists in their pockets, they just need the right voice to rally behind and we are one step closer to a Norrland deciding its own fate. More people like Katarina Östholm need to sharpen their pens and aim them towards the ones in charge.
I see this in a positive light. The more that dares to question the current status quo the merrier. With more openness to “radical” ideas of freedom, of sovereignty, of self-rule, the better. Curiously, this is happening in an area where the majority votes for the social democrats and other parties on the left-of-center (around 55% support according to official statistics). Time will tell where the chips fall on this matter, but I see a glimmer of hope.