Why is Scandinavia so sparsely populated

Over media

The "Bild" has introduced its own section: "And how is Sweden doing?"

It says, for example, that there are "fewer and fewer new infections" in Sweden (May 5), that Sweden is in a better position than Spain or Italy, "although curfews have been in place there for weeks" (May 7), that the number of new infections is falling slightly ( May 9th) that Sweden is now also discussing the mask requirement (May 6th), that there is no compulsory face mask for nurses in Sweden (May 8th) and that in Sweden "again more cultural events with an audience" (May 11th) would take place:

“In May, burlesque star Dita von Teese (47) and singer Randy Newman (76) will perform in Stockholm. One artist, however, stands out in particular: Black Sabbath founder Tony Iommi ... wants to play in the "Lilla Cirkus" in Stockholm on May 15th despite severe cancer. "

Tony Iommi's concert has meanwhile been postponed, Randy Newman's concert was canceled on April 27th, and the fact that a new date is being sought for Dita von Teeese's performance has been on her Facebook page since March 31st.

The land of rising bars and daycare centers

The cancellations and postponements are not surprising, as events with more than 50 people are prohibited in Sweden. You should have known, especially if you fill in a column with the title “And how is Sweden doing?” Almost every day, but: What do you not do for good news from the country of rising bars, daycare centers and schools?

But not only in “Bild” also in “Welt” the Swedish way is praised: “Why Germany's lockdown is wrong - and Sweden does a lot better”, writes Stefan Homburg there:

"The coronavirus was successfully contained without harming basic rights and jobs."

Jakob Augstein even sees Sweden on a path that the country could continue to follow until 2022.

Jakob @Augstein: “Sweden has found a way that they can go by 2022. We clearly don't have that in Germany. That's completely crazy. ”# Press Club # Covid_19 # SchulboykottNRW

- Press Club (@ARD_Presseclub) April 19, 2020

Sweden, the perfect key witness

In the corona pandemic and the discussions about sensible or stupid or business-friendly or business-hostile measures, Sweden has become a code for: There is another way, without too great restrictions.

And in the process of portraying the local measures as wrong or exaggerated, Sweden is the supposedly perfect key witness: modern, democratic, cosmopolitan, social, solidary, with strict speed limits and unisex toilets, not inclined to leave the international community for no reason. An example. A liberal lighthouse in the sea of ​​supposedly authoritarian other states. In short: a better witness than Belarus.

Pointing the finger at the largest Scandinavian country is all too often only intended to legitimize one's own opinion. A “The Swedes do it that way” draws more than a simple “My opinion”.

Problems in retirement homes

However, the results so far do not necessarily speak in favor of the Swedes:

  • Despite good conditions (rich country, comparatively good health system, sparsely populated, many single households), Sweden has a relatively high number of corona cases with 2,700 infections per million inhabitants ...
  • ... and (again per million inhabitants) many Covid-19 deaths.
  • Especially when compared to the other Scandinavian countries Denmark, Norway and Finland, the numbers for Sweden are significantly worse at the moment.
  • In Sweden, especially in old people's homes, many people were infected and also died of or with Corona. The head of the Swedish public health authority Johan Carlson said in the "Spiegel":

“The Swedish nursing homes were actually not well prepared. The training of the employees was inadequate, protective material was missing "

  • Sweden does little testing
  • And in Sweden - like other countries - Covid-19 hits the poor, the immigrants who cannot stay in the home office and cannot move to their holiday home.
  • In economic terms, Sweden may not end up doing better than the countries that have taken tougher measures. While the EU Commission expects Sweden's gross domestic product (GDP) to decline by 6.1 percent this year, the state's own central bank, the Reichsbank, even expects a decrease of 7 to 10 percent and an unemployment rate of between 9 and 10, 4 percent. For comparison: the EU Commission expects the economy to decline by 7.5 percent for the entire Union.
  • And in Sweden, too, there is - in addition to broad approval - loud criticism of the course from the government and health authorities.

That way? Or that long?

One can be divided as to whether the Swedish way is the better or the worse. Since the easing in this country, the measures have become more and more similar anyway - although it of course makes a difference whether the curve was previously pushed by stricter guidelines. The goals were almost identical from the start anyway.

This is what the chief epidemiologist of the public health authority Anders Tegnell also says:

"I think it has been overstated how unique the approach is. As in many other countries, we aim to flatten the curve, slowing down the spread as much as possible - otherwise the health-care system and society are at risk of collapse. "

("I think it has been overstated how unique our approach is. As in many other countries, we try to flatten the curve, to slow the spread as much as possible - otherwise there is a risk that the health system and society will collapse. ")

Surprisingly high death rate

Tegnell repeatedly refers to the more long-term and holistic approach of how important open schools are for the well-being of children or how important it is for adults to keep their jobs. But he was also surprised by the high death rate in Sweden, as he frankly admitted on the "Daily Show".

It will be billed in two or three years. Then, in retrospect, it can be judged whether the rather gentle step on the brake was the right one, or whether the hard braking and slow release could better prevent the possible crash - or whether everyone came to a stop equally well.

Therefore it is of course just as questionable when Karl Lauterbach accuses the Swedes of “Maischberger” of acting “irresponsibly”, attests them a “pathetic result” and says:

"Roughly speaking, a lot of older people are sacrificed there so that the cafés don't have to be closed."

Look more closely

Don't get it wrong: A look at and in other countries is certainly helpful: How do they do it? What's going well? What's going bad? Which methods were and are promising? We'd be stupid if we didn't learn from each other.

But: Then we have to take a closer look. But gray tones are all too often lost in black and white painting (Sweden everything open, Germany in the imagined “lockdown”).

And what certainly doesn't help is sucking stories from your fingers in order to paint a picture of a country where everyone was still happily going to concerts.