19 September, 2010

Election day

It is a big day in Sweden. It's been a gray Sunday morning, but getting sunnier (it's also almost noon, so I should probably get dressed, too. Sort-of-sunny days are getting fewer and shorter.) I kind of want to get out and see where Swedes vote. And what's happening at all of those cute little stugas all over the city? Yes, they vote on Sundays. No religious observations getting in the way there ;)

When Sweden made third on the list of "Best Countries" in Newsweek a few months ago, the break-down analysis by the weekly said Sweden had the best political environment, namely, transparency and low corruption among government officials and political parties, and an open environment with strongly defended freedoms of speech and religion. And, of course, warless for over 200 years.

I admit to not following Swedish politics in detail. The U.S. political system has its faults, but at least there are only 2 major players to pay attention to. How does one even keep 8+ parties straight?!? The differences between some of them must be miniscule. But I digress. The Social Democrats (the "center-left" party responsible for the extensive Swedish welfare system) have held majority in parliament basically since the 1920s, and this year, they are a little worried that for the first time in more than 80 years, they'll lose that sway.  Center-right-leaning parties which have formed alliances are gaining ground, but most disturbingly, the Sweden Democrats, a super-far-right group billed as racist and xenophobic is poised to take a few seats, as well. The xenophobia comes from their anti-immigration platform, despite the statistic that 14% of the 9.4 million population in this country is immigrants (that number includes Stu & me, right? Not that we can legally vote yet.)  Some of the big-ticket issues include taxes, welfare benefits, the economy, jobs, immigration. You know, the usual, no matter what country you are in. I took some of these facts from a recent article from The Economist.

The småpratar I have overheard at fika at Moderna Museet makes it sound like a lot of people don't love the current government players (like Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, of the New Moderates party.) I'd like to see the Social Democrats keep it together as majority, and though I don't know much about her, I'd like to see Mona Sahlin as the country's first female PM. I also voted for Hilary Clinton in the primaries in 2008. To clarify, though, I would never, ever give votes to someone like Sarah Palin or Christine O'Donnell just because they are women. I want to see what *smart* women can do with more political clout.

So I guess we'll find out this week what the next four years will look like in Sweden.

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