18 September 2010


Tomorrow it is election day here in Sweden (we'd like to point out that tomorrow is a Sunday, which is interesting to us because in Denmark elections are always held on a working day). Three levels of administration are up for election: the municipal councils, the county councils and the parliament. As non-Swedish European Union citizens we have the right to vote for the first two of those.

Which municipality one gets to vote in is determined by which municipality one has residence in on August 20th - so we belong in our new municipality. By following the campaign we have learned a few things about Lidingö.

Important issues on Lidingö are summer jobs for juveniles, more dog-toilettes and not least the opening of a second branch of the national alcohol monopoly Systembolaget! Did we hear anyone say 'privileged municipality'?! Lidingö is known as the Island of Health, hence all the parties are in favour of protecting the green areas, a green municipal economy (whatever that entails) and organic foods for the young and the elderly alike.

Where the differences between the parties are apparent, is in what they believe is best for the environment. One of the biggest questions is the commuter infrastructure of the island: should they spend some 100 M$ on blasting a new road tunnel out of the bed rock, expand the existing roads, or simply go all-in on public transportation?

Even though education and schools have been a key issue also in the national campaigns we have been quite mystified as to why it was so central to everybody on this island that the school meals be locally prepared from organic produce - until we suddenly remembered that in Sweden (unlike in Denmark) warm meals are eaten for lunch.

Unlike in Denmark, where you receive one very long ballot containing all your options upon entering the polling station on election day, they use different ballots for each party here in Sweden. These ballots are often distributed by the parties themselves along with the rest of their campaign material in the weeks before the election. This is just one reason why it is easier to vote before election day here in Sweden than it is in Denmark. One can bring along the relevant ballots when going to vote, but all the ballots are of course available at the polling stations as well. The first option is obviously the more anonymous. We have noticed that the Swedish system has been criticised in the Danish media for not being sufficiently anonymous. The solution to this problem is as obvious as it is simple: take all the ballots you like and no one will know which party you are going to vote for.

Campaign posters are used quite somewhat more moderately in Stockholm than in Copenhagen (although that doesn't say much), but the old joke of adding a little extra bonus to the odd campaign poster is obviously also known here. On the other hand we have been running zigzag between the various campaigners every time we've gone to a train station, shopping mall or public square this last week before the election.


Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Sunday elections? Well I guess it means more people can vote, although in Canada your employer has to give you time off during the day to vote, by law.

The mass of campaigners is always fun. I refer to walking down the main streets at election time as "running the gauntlet". I always had to say "can't vote, not a citizen" about once every minute for weeks at a time. I considered making a t-shirt with those words on it to save my voice. At least next time I'll be able to take part!

t said...

Yeah, I remember the "Can't vote, not a citizen" from my years in California. Although, it did get tedious, so I started varying my answers.
Q: "Registered to vote?"
A: "I wish I could..."
Which brings another point to mind: Sweden is the first place I've lived in the past 8 years where I'm actually allowed to vote, so it felt great.

Of course, not everybody wants to vote on a Sunday. I think in Stockholm a rather large fractions of the votes were cast ahead of time.

Lisbeth said...

Cath, 'running the guantlet' became more literal for some this past election weekend: http://www.thelocal.se/29148/20100921/