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Sweden's oldest would-be MP: 'They promised I wouldn't get in'

Published: 24 Apr 2014 14:54 GMT+02:00

"You know what, I said I'd be on the list as long as I wasn't high up enough to be elected," Arvedson says on the phone from Örnsköldsvik in northern Sweden.

Arvedson doesn't actually know where he stands on the list for the September national elections.

"I don't know if it's 35th place..." he says.

At present, his party has 24 seats in the Riksdag, which means that if it were to repeat its 2010 election performance, Arvedsson would still be eleven places short of a parliamentary debut. Which suits him fine.

"They promised I wouldn't get in." 

An active member of the Salvation Army, Arvedson also joined the Liberal Party in his youth. He felt the party best reflected his Christian values. 

"Taking care of your fellow man," he summarizes. 

Nowadays, his main concern is that Swedish taxpayers feel their contributions to the state coffers are well managed. Since 2006, the Liberal Party has been in a formal coalition with other right-of-centre parties. 

"First and foremost so we don't do anything stupid with our economy," he says. "People need to feel that their taxes are used in a sensible way."

His dedication to well-managed public finances goes back to his youth.

"I certainly felt in the 1950s when the Social Democrats were unchallenged in charge that they used the money on unnecessary things," Arvedsson says. 

When he first got involved in the Liberal Party, but also the Salvation Army where he remains active to this day, Arvedson thrived in the hustle and bustle of association life (föreningsliv).

"Föreningslivet was blossoming," he recalls. "When I was young there was a different climate, you met up with people in a completely new way."

Arvedson is concerned that young people in Sweden today spend too much time online.

"They use computers to talk to each other and that doesn't give that feeling of community spirit and joy, that's gone, people no longer have time for each other," he says.

"But I think the tide will turn because people need to meet and see the person they're talking to in the flesh, and not just talk to them on the phone or one of those tablets or computers." 

Editor's Note: There is no picture of Arvedson with this article, because he doesn't own a computer. 

Ann Törnkvist (ann.tornkvist@thelocal.com)

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