Covid-19 is scrambling Scandinavian stereotypes

Danes used to think of Swedes as meticulous and reliable. No longer

7/3/2020 7:39:00 AM

Denmark, Finland and Norway have opened their borders to each other, but not to Swedes

Danes used to think of Swedes as meticulous and reliable. No longer

N THE TELEVISIONseries “The Bridge”, a Danish and a Swedish detective must collaborate when a body is found on the Oresund bridge between the two countries. The series was an international hit, but few foreign viewers recognised that the cops embody Danish and Swedish stereotypes of each other. The wisecracking, chain-smoking Copenhagen detective hews to the Swedish view of Danes as jolly, messy and unreliable. His counterpart in Malmo seems to have Asperger’s syndrome; the joke is that to Danes, her obsessive literalism and emotion-free sex life simply look like an acute case of Swedishness.

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Covid-19 has scrambled these stereotypes. Denmark implemented a meticulous lockdown. Sweden has taken a uniquely laid-back approach, keeping schools and restaurants open. Its infection and death rates are now far above its neighbours’. As a result, when Denmark, Norway and Finland opened their borders to each others’ tourists on June 15th, they kept them closed to Swedes. Sweden’s foreign minister, Ann Linde, begged them not to discriminate against her countryfolk, and warned of permanent harm to Nordic co-operation. But the neighbours say they are simply protecting their own public health.

Swedes tend to consider themselves impeccable in matters moral and sanitary. Being treated as irresponsible carriers of disease has been a bewildering blow. Stefan Lofven, Sweden’s prime minister, insists that his country’s high infection rate is a matter of chance rather than failed policy.

Much of the conflict has played out on the bridge where theTVseries was set. Since the 8km-long link across the Oresund Strait opened in 2000, the economies of Copenhagen and Malmo have in effect merged. After the border closed in March, only Swedes with steady jobs were allowed to cross, not tourists or day-trippers. The economic damage was considerable. Swedes were especially galled that Danes continued to visit their country to enjoy its open bars. On June 27th, Denmark began letting in Swedes from provinces where infection rates are low, but not from regions where they are high, such as Stockholm.

Stereotypes shift. The Gotlandsvisan, a 14th-century Swedish ballad, portrays Danes as unreliable, which matches the modern image, and cruel, which does not. Danes once ridiculed Swedes’ cowardice; now they make fun of their formality. Covid-19 is just the latest crisis to give old roles a new twist.

Editor’s note: Some of our covid-19 coverage is free for readers of Read more: The Economist »

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You know, I’d love to go to Sweden. But my Arabic isn’t too good i swear i saw this one like 4 days ago why are you reposting your articles Sweden did not do any worse with lockdowns than the rest of Europe who had lockdowns. And Swedes know what is best for them more than anyone does! sweden COVID19

Not from what I've seen they're not. This is absolute piffle. Well 😏 the Swedes know who is to blame and that is not “bad luck” ... Undoubtedly yes! As you do. Quote: “For Sweden, this is difficult to come to terms with. The country tends to think of itself as impeccable” Same chance does not allows anyone from Sweden to travel to Finland Norway and Denmark

He’s right. The policy created shitty chances for the Swedes ffs, infections are good. Deaths are bad. Everybody needs to get it. The majourity will beat it (it doesn't kill kids) with their healthy immune systems. Sweden did it right - lower death rate per million than it's neighbours !!! The capons lament

Sure boy,what else you suppose to insist... ?! trumpist Sweden does not have more excess dearhs than for exemple UK, Belgium & Netherlands that went throuh proper lockdowns. Perhaps, they took advice from ashoswai. Trying to wash away blame thug LMFAO yeah policy has no effect on its citizens. That's why politicians fight over power.

Sweden: 5,420 deaths Norway: 251 deaths 'A matter of chance' my ass. Must be a cousin to POTUS Chance! What's he drinkin'? IKR 👊🏻 Sweden, like Germany and Japan, has high levels of social cohesion and conformity. This has benefits, but if things go wrong, it could lead the country to march blindly off a cliff in unison.

Sweden has lower death rate than UK, which has very stringent unselective 'lockdown' policy. Other factors affect death rates community wide but no one is attempting to figure out what the major determinants are. The data suggest to me that TRAVEL is the most important factor This can be used by anyone too 😂😂

covid rate? You mean positive testing? The more you test, the more positives you will find. This is the screwed up logic going on here in New Jersey, and elsewhere. What is their death rate compared to the European average? But lower deaths per capita than UK, Spain and Italy Delusional and too lazy to understand science. Deaths at his feet.

Clearly failed policy the thruth is he says it’s due to privatized, badly run elderly care - Swedish citizien They lie to themselves. Their horrible mistakes kill people, absolutely pointlessly. Very sad to see such broken country. Sweden is one of main victims of pandemy era. That’s convenient for him then. Well done!

Its like your Handling a crane and you fuck it up and 11 people die. Would you say ... wow lucky those 11 people do not need to get fired due to recession ? Leaving it to chance is a lack of policy, and therefore, a failure. A chance for Sweden to build a herd immunity state. ThereseClaire_ Politik aja kayaknya ya? Mereka kesel Swedia gak ikut2an lockdown, testing dan masker mania. Wkwk

Like the US Yet the Greek government allowed two tourist flights from Sweden to land, in contravention of its own flight ban. Bitter angry neighbours sour because their governments rogered them with pointless lockdowns, got it. More FakeNews. Most folk have cottoned on that COVID19 was a sensationalised nothing-virus.

All Swedes Matter! Ledarred Correct. Well deserved. Ledarred The Swedish government is pretty much irresponsible in all areas, so it should come as no surprise. Cc fdbedout Poor Swedes , they haven't get immune response yet What was that quote from the Emperor... ' You are paying the price for your lack of vision'

This is of a piece with the rest of Scandinavia’s traditional discrimination against Sweden (think U.S. attitude toward Mexico), but is, in this case, perhaps warranted? *cries in American* Of course this is simply to push the absolute BS narrative of the need for total isolation and a future vaccine instead of the Swedes herd immunity model

Obviously there is a good reason.

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