In an opinion piece published in Dagens Samhälle, sociologist and Center Party activist Kahin Ahmed has accused Sweden's political institutions of structural racism that keeps Swedes of African descent away from politics.
According to Ahmed, Sweden's political elite should better reflect the ethnic composition of the general population.
"There are about 200,000 Afro-Swedes in Sweden. They are a minority group that is disadvantaged systematically, for example, via exclusion from parties' parliamentary lists," Ahmed wrote. "When certain structures prevent certain groups from being represented, the consequences are that the society is developing in the wrong direction and a deficit of democracy becomes a fact," he wrote.
Ahmed also argued people of color often raise suspicions when they get into politics, a popular attitude that prevents them from climbing the political career.
"With 13 years of political experience at both the district level and county level, I feel that if you go into politics as a dark-skinned politician, you often get skeptical looks from party colleagues. When an Afro-Swedish politician from the suburb tries to step into the political playground, it often happens that they aren't welcomed by party colleagues. Instead, the sorting mechanism is getting started, and the feeling of total isolation becomes a fact," Ahmed wrote.
Kahin also slammed the very idea of an assimilation policy, which, he claimed, was pushed forward by "populist and xenophobic parties" and was a hinder for a "diversity society."
"The assimilation idea is based on a stereotyped way of thinking about immigrants. An assimilation policy means that all immigrants should abandon their identities, language, cultural norms, values, celebrations of traditional festivals and religious beliefs. In short, immigrants are deemed to adapt to the majority society," Ahmed wrote.
In conclusion, Ahmed called for a more proportionate representation in parliament. According to him, the strategy that allegedly prevented Afro-Swedes from achieving positions of power, should be dismantled. Also, more leeway should be given to local politicians with strong local anchorage.
Kahin Ahmed used to represent the Conservative Party in Rinkeby-Kista district, where the percentage of inhabitants with a foreign background hovers around 90 percent, but later switched his allegiance to the Center Party.
Notable Swedish politicians of African descent include incumbent Democracy and Culture Minister Alice Bah Kuhnke, former Feminist Initiative leader Victoria Kawesa and former Gender Equality and Integration Minister Nyamko Sabuni.