Swedish Elections & Swedish Choices

This wouldn’t be a blogpost about the elections if it didn’t have a poll! I will not share the latest opinion polls done by professional agencies, but rather ask you: what will be the predominant color of the next Swedish government? Blue is for The Moderates, and Red is for The Socialists 🙂 For more info, read the text below.

I have never lived in Sweden under the socialists’ reign; and the question is still: will I ever?

I moved to Sweden exactly 3 days after the 2006 elections, when Socialdemokraterna (The Social Democrats) were ousted after twelve years in power, by the so-called Alliansen (The Alliance), formed by Moderaterna (The Moderate Party), Folkpartiet (People’s Party), Centerpartiet (The Centre Party) and Kristdemokraterna (Christian Democrats). I remember a man who sat next to me on the plane, a Serb who lived in Sweden for many years, wondering how and if Sweden will change under the new political elite. He also wished me luck, concluded that no one will be able to pronounce my name properly and that people will most likely call me ’Mika’ (he was 50% correct). He helped me with my laptop bag, asking whether I have bricks in there too (I did not, it was a radio clock and gods know what other junk).

I have no idea if Sweden has changed politically since the ’90s. Probably, but I’m not the right person to judge. One striking difference is the rapid rise and growth of far-right-wing populist and anti-immigration factions, especially Sverigedemokraterna (Sweden Democrats). In fact, such forces have been growing throughout the EU, which became apparent after this spring’s elections for the EU parliament.

I am not sure what Sverigedemokraterna exactly think about the fact that even people who are not Swedish citizens have a right to vote, though only at the municipal and county elections, and only if they are either EU/Iceland/Norway citizens or lived in Sweden for more than 3 consecutive years. But still…

Voter invitation card for the Swedish general elections in 2010, which “for some reason” made me super-excited 🙂

I exercised my right to vote at the previous elections – mostly because I wanted to collect a new experience for my birthday 😉 I like to think of the Swedish elections as ’waste of paper’, but not because they’re useless 😛 The whole concept is rather different than in most other countries. Instead of taking only several ballots with the lists for the main levels of administrative division (city, parliament, president etc.), in Sweden, there’s a ballot for each running party, each one containing the name list of their candidates who are running for the position. And then, in the voting booth, one chooses the ballots of the preferred parties (and optionally circles a name of choice) and leaves/throws away the rest. I would assume that they are recycled? However, for the confused like me, there are apparently also ballots with only names of the parties but not the candidates, in case one does not wish to vote for a specific person. I’ll have to be more observant this time and try to identify those. Seriously, it’s messy.

So definitely, I’ll vote again this year, though I know it won’t make much difference. The political campaigns have been more ruthless than ever, plus I’m not really following them properly. The only time I paid close attention was when the Government finally changed the law re. non-EU PhD students in Sweden. Yes, now we have the right to apply for permanent residence after five years of studies, which was not the case before. And that’s on my to-do list. The Migration Board has the right to decline, though, and then I’ll probably never know what it’s like to get another 4 years with Alliansen, or to start fresh with the socialists. But hopefully, whatever happens, Sweden and I will step into a better future… together or not 🙂

Some fun facts:

Logos of all major political parties in Sweden. Lots of flowers.
Logos of all major political parties in Sweden. Lots of flowers.

* I forgot to mention other important political players in Sweden (in a way, even more important than those mentioned above, having the power to negotiate coalitions without which there’s no parliament majority): The Green Party (Miljöpartiet), Feminist Initiative (Feministisk Initiativ), Left Party (Vänsterpartiet)… and then there’s The Pirate Party (Piratpartiet);

* And speaking of piracy and other internet issues… Surprisingly, electronic voting is still not introduced in Sweden; as in most of the world, there’s fear of electronic fraud. The first country in the world to have legally binding general elections using the Internet as a means of casting the vote was Estonia, and it was declared a success.

* Most Swedish parties have a flower for a logo. In my short and hasty online search, I found no concrete reason for this.

* Interestingly, Swedish word for ‘elections’ is ‘val‘, which also means ‘choice’ 🙂

To be continued…

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