06:02 GMT +324 October 2018
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    Swedish Scholars Cite 'Unhealthy Situation' as 'Few' MPs Have Foreign Background

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    The fact that 24 percent of Swedish residents have a foreign background isn't reflected in parliament, where individual parties have as few as three percent of non-Swedish MPs, which has triggered disparity concerns.

    Whereas a quarter of the Swedish population has a foreign background, only 11.5 percent of the members of its new parliament have, a fact that has made activists and sociologists sounds the alarm over underrepresentation of minorities, Swedish Radio reported.

    The Left Party is in the lead when it comes to the most representatives with foreign background it its parliamentary group, with 32 percent, followed by the Liberals with 20 percent and the Moderates with 14 percent. At the other end of the scale, there are the Sweden Democrats with three percent and the Christian Democrats with 4.5 percent.

    Ahmed Abdirahman, Somali-Swedish scholar, entrepreneur and the founder of Järva Week, an alternative forum to the traditional Almedalen Week on the island of Gotland, which intends to bridge the gap between voters and their representatives, argued that having a "different perspective" makes it possible to make big decisions that affect people's lives.

    "It is clear that we wish, for the sake of our democracy, for this figure to increase each year, and thus we will have a living and healthy democracy in which everyone recognizes themselves," Ahmed Abdirahman told Swedish Radio.

    READ MORE: First Somali Swedish Lawmaker Triggers Debate About Tribalism, 'Ethnic Voting'

    Nevertheless, Abdirahman said he was proud of the fact that the share of MPs with a foreign background hadn't decreased "in a time of polarization," when mass immigration had been one of the crucial topics prior to recent elections, in which the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats ultimately had their biggest success so far.

    At present, the proportion of people with foreign backgrounds is estimated at over 24 percent of the total Swedish population of about 10 million. How many of those actually eligible to vote that availed themselves of this opportunity in the past general election isn't clear yet.

    "It's hardly a sign of health, of course, if many voters don't feel represented by the parties that we have. We are, after all, what is called a representative democracy," political analyst and researcher Patrik Öhberg at the University of Gothenburg told Swedish Radio.

    READ MORE: Swedish Politician Slams Assimilation, Calls for More Afro-Swedes in Power

    According to Öhberg, those who don't feel represented either abstain from voting altogether or vote for a new party they believe to be capable of raising the pivotal questions others cannot.

    Aron Etzler of the Left Party, which outperformed the other parties in the share of the foreign-born, argued that this was a sign of acceptance. At the same time, he insisted that politics must come first, calling the inclusion of people who don't support the party's views merely for the sake of inclusion "fake representation."

    The September general election resulted in a hung parliament, with neither of Sweden's two major blocs, the "red-green" or the center-right Alliance, winning a convincing majority and thus left dependent on the Sweden Democrats to form a government.

    Topic:
    Europe's Refugee and Migrant Crisis (154)
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    democracy, parliament, immigration, Scandinavia, Sweden
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