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EU Election 2014
'My Swedish girlfriend told me who to vote for'
Advance voting booths are already open in Sweden. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

'My Swedish girlfriend told me who to vote for'

Oliver Gee · 20 May 2014, 17:19

Published: 20 May 2014 17:19 GMT+02:00

EU elections are around the corner, and if you're from elsewhere in the EU, you have the right to vote in either Sweden or your home country.
 
We talked to a mix of EU expats, and even a Swede living abroad, to see what they're thinking.
 
Katherine Trigarszky, UK, voted already
 
"I've applied for Swedish citizenship but I haven't got it yet, so my only way to make a difference and make my opinion known is via the EU election process. I think it's important to make use of the votes I have. I have two small children, so schools and family are important to me, and also the environment. I pretty much always vote the same way. I've been umming and aahing over two or three parties. I also think being a member of the EU is pretty important for Sweden, it's a good way of making sure Europe is more united." 
 
Lisa Signor, US
 
"I am a Swede living in Utah, and gosh darned it, I made the effort to contact the Swedish consulate of Salt Lake City and obtained EU voting material. Only some 29 Swedes have picked up ballots from the consulate. Basically, there's not a very high interest in the EU election. But I want to exercise my right to vote and I get a kick out of learning the ropes. So many parties and young candidates! A good question is, do we want Europe to be more like the United States? Hmm. Well, then vote."
 
Martin Burns, 45, Edinburgh
 
"I've only been here since January and I don't think I'll vote. This would mark the first time I've not voted since I've been able to. I don't think I know the Swedish parties well enough to cast an informed vote. I mean, I've seen all the posters around Stockholm and there are some clear and interesting messages, some that I feel I could stand behind, but I don't know the background deeply enough to know whether I should believe what I'm reading.
 
I've also noticed some posters around the city for parties that are anti-Europe, and I was interested to see that many of them have been defaced. It's funny to compare it to the UK where everyone's rhetoric is national issues and about keeping "those horrible foreigners" out - well now I am one of those horrible foreigners.
 
The UK doesn't realize that borders aren't what they were in the 19th century. The UK has always had the sea border, it's always been possible to keep people and ideas out if you don't like them. But here, you can see that a border is an artificial line on a map. You can see Europe from a different perspective. And I want to make sure I can continue to live and work here. People have to understand that in Europe, we can pool resources and consciously keep the union strong. Rich countries with the broadest shoulders must bear more costs. In the future, it may well go the other way. If we want a growing market and we want to support jobs and exports, then we need economies that work. If that means we have to support them while things aren't working there, then so be it." 
 
Cameron Thorne, 24, UK 
 
"Yeah, I'm planning to vote, but it's a little confusing. I've always been a Labour voter back home apart from the last election. I'm not that informed on Swedish politics, however. The one party I really don't agree with is the Sweden Democrats, they remind me of the Ukip situation. I'm a bit undecided, but I will vote in Sweden. I read a bit of the manifesto for the Green Party and I liked it, I essentially tend to be very left sided, but think i need to educate myself a bit more. My quality of life in Stockholm is one hundred times better than in England. I'm not particularly motivated to be a catalyst for change as depressing as it may sound."
 
Stan Dimitrov, 31, Bulgaria 
 
"I'll be voting, but not in Sweden. There is much more of a need for my vote in Bulgaria right now, people aren't active there and my vote will count for a lot more. There is a particular need for a discussion about oil and gas back home, we're heavily dependent on Russia for both. The party I'll vote for has promised to be a little more active in the area of economic growth and the capacity for innovation. 
 
If I had to vote in Sweden, I would vote for the party that promises more integration in the EU between the different countries. More openness in terms of people travelling across borders for work. Also on parties more focused on economic growth."
 
Elisabeth, Austria
 
"I'm going to vote in the EU-Election in Sweden, even though I'm an Austrian citizen. It's important to vote, even if you think one vote doesn't matter. It does. I think if you don't vote, other parties will benefit from your silence. The more I hear and read in the media, the more I see how important it is to use the right to vote. 
 
And since it's so easy to vote - with advanced voting and via mail - there's really no excuse not to."
 
Cathal O'Hare, Ireland
 
"I voted in Sweden. My Swedish girlfriend contacted the election authorities and they sent out some forms which asked where I had been registered to vote previously - the electoral area in Ireland. They then sent out a voting card and I voted in the local library.
 
My girlfriend was very keen for me to vote for Feminist Initiative so I told her that if she organized everything I would do it. I don't usually vote when I'm in Ireland but Swedes seem to be more engaged in politics than people from the British Isles. Feminist Initiative are the flavour of the month among lefties and hipsters at the minute I think - their leader is apparently quite charismatic and they have been backed by some high profile celebrities."

Oliver Gee (oliver.gee@thelocal.se)

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