Hostile environments preventing women living in blighted areas from casting their ballots has been identified as one of the problems in the months leading up to the upcoming general election in September. While this may have happened before, police are determined to put a stop to this problem, the Aftonbladet daily reported.
A recent report presented by the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) highlighted the problem of "parallel legal systems" flourishing in vulnerable areas. According to the report, 70 percent of residents in vulnerable areas admitted to being influenced by criminal circles to not call the police or to witness, the Dagens Juridik legal daily reported. In the report, parallel societies were said to function on a "distinctly patriarchal basis," with women and children being the most adversely affected.
"We will be in place to see to it that no problems occur," Stefan Hector, police chief responsible for security in the 2018 general election told Aftonbladet.
By his own admission, the police know from previous experience that people, above all, women and dissidents who go against the majority vote, have often been prevented from taking part in the vote.
Without naming any specific events or areas for reasons of security and privacy, Hector stressed that everyone should safely be able to vote, pledging special measures to prevent this from happening again.
"We will invest special power in guaranteeing that opinions are freely formed and that the election in vulnerable areas goes smoothly," Hector said.
These measures are part of Sweden's policy to increase voter turnout in the blighted areas. Earlier this month, about 20 organization across the country were granted SEK 8.5 million ($1.1 million) in an effort to persuade more apathetic voters to cast their ballots in the upcoming election. The government grants will particularly target the underprivileged, traditionally marked by low voter turnout.
Swedish police define a vulnerable area as a "geographically-defined area characterized by a low socio-economic status, where criminals have an impact on the local community." Last year's government report identified a total of 61 blighted areas in Sweden, graded into three degrees of vulnerability. The majority of them are found in the nation's three largest cities, Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö.
Experience from previous elections shows that Sweden's population with foreign background tends to have disproportionate support for the left-wing parties; above all the governing red-green coalition of the Social Democrats and the Greens.