• 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)

Today's headlines
National
Swedish town 'like Venice' after heavy rains
Photo: TT

Swedish town 'like Venice' after heavy rains

Torrential rains in western Sweden have left some towns submersed as water levels have risen to 1.5 metres above normal for the season with forecasts indicating that is worse to come. READ  

Ebola crisis
Sweden pledges new aid to UN Ebola fund
Photo: TT

Sweden pledges new aid to UN Ebola fund

Sweden has offered a new sizeable contribution to the fund set up by UN chief Ban K-moon to fight the Ebola outbreak. READ  

Society
'Dark forces' target refugee hunting scheme
Photo: Lars-Göran Thuresson/Älgriket

'Dark forces' target refugee hunting scheme

The Swedish hunting association runs a project to encourage young asylum-seekers to learn about hunting, a move which has proved controversial among some far right groups. READ  

Business & Money
American sales squeeze Ericsson profits
Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg presents the third-quarter earnings report at the company's headquarters in Kista. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

American sales squeeze Ericsson profits

Swedish telecoms equipment maker Ericsson reported a decline in net profit in the third quarter despite an increase in sales, boosted by business in emerging markets. READ  

Interview
'Too many concerts feel the same'
Sofar hosts secret gigs in Swedish apartments. Photo: Sofar

'Too many concerts feel the same'

Kattis Bjork founded Stockholm's secret gig scene - Sofar - a year ago. The Local caught up with her as she prepared to celebrate the project's anniversary this weekend and revealed the concept will spread to other Swedish cities in 2015. READ  

Stockholm 'sub hunt'
Sweden calls off suspect submarine search
Ships are returning to shore in Sweden. Photo: TT

Sweden calls off suspect submarine search

The core search for a suspected foreign vessel in Swedish waters has been called off. The armed forces said they remained convinced foreign underwater activity had taken place but had not identified an intruder. READ  

Business & Money
US and Japan fuel surge for Volvo trucks
Ed Carbaugh prepares to install parts on a truck engine on an assembly line at Volvo Trucks' powertrain manufacturing facility in Hagerstown, Maryland, March 2014. Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP

US and Japan fuel surge for Volvo trucks

Sweden's Volvo, the world's second-largest maker of trucks, said Friday it saw a spike in profits in the third quarter, boosted by thriving sales in the US and Japanese markets. READ  

Inspectors attacked at rogue doc’s surgery
Cigarettes and beer photo: Shutterstock

Inspectors attacked at rogue doc’s surgery

Inspectors who were sent to shut down a doctor’s surgery in Gothenburg were physically attacked and fled the premises to get help from the police. READ  

Police turn Swede’s vodka into water
A Swede loads a car with alcohol in northern Germany. File photo: Drago Prvulovic/TT

Police turn Swede’s vodka into water

Swedish police say they will pay a man 16,000 kronor ($2,200) in damages after much of the alcohol they confiscated from him was stolen, while many of the bottles they returned were filled with water. READ  

Diplomacy
US to get first female ambassador in Sweden
File photo: Athena Center for Leadership Studies

US to get first female ambassador in Sweden

The United States Embassy in Stockholm is set to get its first female ambassador after the White House announced it was nominating the Iranian-American ex-investment banker Azita Raji to take over from Mark Brzezinski. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: October 24th - 31st
Gallery
People-watching: October 22nd
Gallery
In Pictures: Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist
Lifestyle
Eight things to love about renting a Swedish apartment
National
Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden
Blog updates

24 October

Editor’s blog, October 24th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Get ready to read our weekly digest of Swedish news in less than 60 seconds. The..." READ »

 

24 October

Is darkness weather? (Blogweiser) »

"I try very hard not to talk about the weather. This has come after a decade..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Sub hunt: Day-by-day
National
Sub hunt: Stockholm islanders share their fears with The Local
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
National
Get 20% off unique Swedish homeware
National
Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
Gallery
Property of the week: Malmö
Gallery
PHOTOS: 'Foreign activity' in Swedish waters
Gallery
People-watching: October 19th
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden: October 17th - 24th
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
What's on in Sweden: October 10th - 17th
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Gallery
People-watching: October 8th
National
Five facts to know about Patrick Modiano
Society
My Swedish Career: A French fashionista in Sweden
Society
Swede's anti-bully Facebook tale goes viral
Society
Have you seen Sweden's viral subway cancer campaign?
National
Isis: Swedes linked to Turkish prisoner swap
National
Should Swedes be banned from buying sex abroad?
Gallery
Fredrik Reinfeldt's leaving presents
National
Five Swedish TV shows you shouldn't miss
Gallery
A tool belt, a casserole, and a book. Fredrik Reinfeldt's parliament gifts
TT
Lifestyle
Top five winter festivals in Sweden
TT
National
Sami reindeer herders win mine reprieve
Gallery
Property of the Week: Gamla Enskede
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
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

977
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
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN