• Sweden edition
 

Sweden 'world's most democratic country'

Published: 22 Nov 2006 14:03 GMT+01:00
Updated: 22 Nov 2006 14:03 GMT+01:00

The organisation looked at a wide range of democratic variables before dividing the 167 countries surveyed into four categories: full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes and authoritarian regimes.

"Sweden, a near-perfect democracy, comes top, followed by a bevy of similarly virtuous northern European countries," the EIU reports.

The other wholly democratic northern Europeans are Iceland, Netherlands, Norway and Denmark.

When 60 indicators were graded from 1 to 10, Sweden achieved a dazzling score of 9.88. The indicators were spread across five broad areas: electoral process, functioning of government, political participation, political culture, and civil liberties.

"More surprising are the relatively modest scores for two traditional bastions of democracy—Britain (23) and the United States.

"In America there has been a perceptible erosion of civil liberties related to the fight against terrorism. Long-standing problems in the functioning of government have also become more prominent.

"In Britain, too, there has been some erosion of civil liberties but also a shocking decline in political participation," according to the report.

Italy (34), however, a country recently depicted by The Economist as ‘the sick man of Europe’, is considered a flawed democracy.

North Korea, with a cumulative score of 1.03, is the least democratic country in the world.

Stefan Hedlund, Professor of Soviet and East European Studies at Uppsala University, chuckles when he hears the source of the report.

“I remember that The Economist referred to Sweden as a one-party democracy just a few years ago,” Hedlund told The Local.

“Formally Sweden is of course a democracy but there are some problems. The power of appointment for example is probably the hottest political potato at the moment,” he added.

There have been many examples in recent years of long-serving politicians being rewarded late in their careers with less demanding jobs as ambassadors or county governors.

The alliance parties have proposed removing this feudal relic and replacing it with a more modern approach.

Inga-Britt Ahlenius, head of the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services, pulled no punches when describing the prevailing appointments system in an interview with Dagens Nyheter last year.

“The process takes place with no visibility whatsoever. It is completely arbitrary, in sharp contrast to the image we have of our openness.

“It does not work like this in any other state governed by law. In other countries it is taken for granted that all posts will be publicly advertised and people will be chosen on their merits,” said Ahlenius.

In the same interview Ahlenius states that Swedes have traditionally had problems holding people in power responsible for their actions.

“There are recurrent cases of pure corruption, even if we choose to use more innocent terms,” said Ahlenius.

Stefan Hedlund would prefer it if Sweden had a public appointments system that was “more like Norway, where it is much more open and transparent.”

The Uppsala professor also contends that “very few people are upset” by “a level of hegemony that is quite unique” built up under successive Social Democratic governments.

“I think we need a constitutional court in this country but Social Democrats will always argue that politics is above the law,” said Hedlund.

He argues that people have become so used to the Social Democrats that the only way that Fredrik Reinfeldt could win the election was to pose as one himself.

“It is a different ballgame now. But how long will it take to change the underlying culture? It is interesting for social scientists to speculate, but these things tend to move glacially,” said Hedlund.

Sweden and the USA are diametrically opposed on one important point, argues Hedlund. Where Swedes treasure equality, liberty is everything for Americans. To achieve equality, Swedes place a lot of money in the hands of the state.

“There is a general notion that resources belong to the state, a sense that money for schools, for example, belongs to the education minister. But really it is our money,” said Hedlund.

While Hedlund would like to see a move away from a hegemonic mindset, his worry is that Reinfeldt could “trigger a backlash” if he moves too far away from the accepted paradigm.

Paul O'Mahony (paul.omahony@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right
Today's headlines
Getinge Floods
Swedish floods spread wider as rain continues
Photo: Anders Andersson/TT

Swedish floods spread wider as rain continues

UPDATED: The flood in southern Sweden spread further on Wednesday, with forecasters predicting rain all week. With the defence minister on the scene, officials have warned that up to 8,000 households risk evacuation. READ  

Top ministers count cost of 'less secure world'
Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

Top ministers count cost of 'less secure world'

Foreign and Finance Ministers Carl Bildt and Anders Borg held a press conference on Wednesday to discuss how Sweden was being affected by a "less secure" world, and how it would foot the bill for a growing influx of refugees. READ  

Volvo profits saved by Chinese devotion
Volvo Cars chief executive Håkan Samuelsson. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Volvo profits saved by Chinese devotion

The now Chinese-owned Volvo Car Group announced a return to profits on Wednesday - thanks to the Swedish brand's popularity in China. READ  

Ikea founder gives giant donation to hometown

Ikea founder gives giant donation to hometown

Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad donated a gift to his hometown on Wednesday to the tune of 53 million kronor ($7.7 million). The cash is to be used for developing the area. READ  

Police hunt masked thief after Stockholm fire
Photo: Fanni Olin Dahl/TT

Police hunt masked thief after Stockholm fire

The Slussen tunnel in Stockholm began billowing out black smoke on Wednesday afternoon. Police believe that the fire was connected to an attempted robbery earlier in the day. READ  

Elections 2014
Parties duel as refugee costs rocket
Photos: TT

Parties duel as refugee costs rocket

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and opposition leader Stefan Löfven clashed on Wednesday after the Migration Board asked for more money to handle Sweden's influx of refugees. READ  

Introducing: Sweden's five minority languages
The Sami in northern Sweden. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Introducing: Sweden's five minority languages

Did you know there are five official minority languages in Sweden? The Local's Isabela Vrba finds out what they are, how they're protected, and what rights their speakers have. READ  

Swedish docs puzzled by deformed penis trend

Swedish docs puzzled by deformed penis trend

More and more Swedish boys are born with deformed penises, and researchers are uncertain exactly what's behind the increase. READ  

The Local List
What Sweden means to you in just one Tweet
Photos: Shutterstock/Imagebank Sweden

What Sweden means to you in just one Tweet

The Local Sweden has been asking readers to squeeze their view of Sweden into just 140 characters or less. Here's what you came up with up for #SwedeninaTweet. READ  

Sweden and the Bronx
Swedes celebrate 375th anniversary of the Bronx
The Bronx. Photo:Shutterstock.

Swedes celebrate 375th anniversary of the Bronx

What do the Bronx and Sweden have in common? More than an affiliation with the Yankees, it turns out. And one small Swedish town is about to make that abundantly clear. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
Did you know the Bronx in NYC was named after a Swede?
Politics
"Iraq reminds me of the Yugoslav wars. It's the same story."
Society
Swedes slam Danes for 'racist' art
National
Majority of Swedes favour more or just as many refugees
Society
Lock your bathrooms: Swedish toilet invader on the the loose
Blog updates

17 August

Sea Fever (Around Sweden in a kayak) »

"I’m going to keep this post short and sweet as its not something I take any pleasure in writing. After much deliberation I have made the heartbreaking decision to abandon my trip after 1200km due to reoccurring injury. It is not a decision I have made lightly and it is one that has been truly devastating..." READ »

 

17 August

St. Louis strong (Blogweiser) »

"It’s typically a bad sign when my hometown makes news in Sweden. St. Louis was in the headlines here a few years ago when a tornado struck the airport. The city also caught attention after a politician talked about ‘legitimate rape’. Now, shooting and riots this week in Ferguson, a part of St. Louis, are..." READ »

 
 
 
Politics
'Assange will not leave until safe'
Gallery
See more images from the southern Sweden floods
Sponsored Article
Find out what gives this Swedish school executive appeal
Society
Serial chicken smuggler caught at Norway border. Again.
Society
This gold coin may be the key to solving a Swedish massacre
Shutterstock
Lifestyle
The Swedish mentor (and why you may need one)
National
Food agency warns girls: 'Don't eat stinky fish'
Politics
Reinfeldt calls for tolerance to refugees
Gallery
People-watching August 16-17
National
Sweden celebrates 200 years of peace
Society
Top ten literal Swedish words
Politics
'Terror training should be illegal': Liberal Party
Gallery
Swedes talk about 200 years of national peace
Politics
Islamic extremist shakes Sweden with TV threat
National
Teacher fined for 'Hitler salute' in German class
Politics
Swedish politician proposes ban on begging
National
Swede asks for epidural and gets disinfectant
National
Swede reports 'expensive' sex to police
Education
Sweden plans to scrap SFI for adult education
Skatteverket
Sponsored Article
Introducing... ID cards and permits in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

682
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se