After months of fretting, police finally introduced border controls on the Swedish side of the bridge: the latest symbol of Europe’s unravelling free movement project. There are many others: the razor wire separating Slovenia from Croatia; the border patrols on trains between Germany and Austria.
This has been painful for everyone, but devastating for Sweden because its main political parties barely know how to respond. Openness is the closest thing the Swedes have to a national religion, this policy is visibly failing – and there is no back-up plan. .............The headlines now suggest a country that is coming apart. Just last month, an asylum centre in the picturesque town of Munkedal was set alight, the latest in a series of arson attacks against refugees. Anti-Semitic incidents in Malmö have raised such concern that Swedes have now started “kippa walks”, gathering in their hundreds to accompany Jews home from the synagogue in a show of solidarity. The Sweden Democrats, a party routinely denounced by Swedish media as “neo-fascist”, is now leading in the national opinion polls. Economically, Sweden remains strong. But politically, it’s in crisis...... When the migration situation changed, Swedish policy did not. The numbers now arriving were never envisaged: this year alone, almost 200,000 are expected to arrive in this sparsely populated country. Adjust for population size, and it’s like Britain finding space for a refugee population the size of Birmingham each year. Sweden’s immigration agency has already run out of beds, and has been accommodating asylum-seekers at its head office."