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Why your vote counts

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15:36 CEST+02:00
Håkan SörmanIf you're not a Swedish citizen, you can't vote in the general election, but Sweden's powerful local authorities mean that your vote can still make a difference, as Håkan Sörman, head of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, explains

On 17th September Sweden goes to the polls in the general election as well as 310 local elections.

We feel it is very important that foreign citizens resident in Sweden are made aware that many of you also have the right to vote in the local elections and the 22 local referendums that take place.

This includes all EU citizens, citizens of Norway and Iceland as well as other nationalities that have been resident in Sweden for more than three years at the time of the elections.

As CEO of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Region (SALAR) I would hope that everyone takes the opportunity to exercise their rights in influencing how your municipality or county council is governed.

Local government in Sweden is more devolved than many other countries and as such handles most of the everyday issues that affect our everyday lives.

County councils and regions handle health care, dental care and often local transport while the municipalities are responsible for a great variety of areas including childcare, elderly care, schools and administrative duties such as planning.

The local government bodies in Sweden also have tax raising powers. In fact the majority of the income tax paid in Sweden is levied by your local authorities as only high income earners are subject to state income tax.

In 2006 the average local tax rate is 31.6 percent of which the municipal tax makes up 20.8% and the county council/regional tax is 10.8%. The best way to influence what your tax rate is, or indeed what level of child- or health care you would like, is to vote in the local elections.

We hope you do so.

Håkan Sörman

CEO, Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions

For more information about SALAR and local government in Sweden please check: www.skl.se

For information about the local elections in Sweden: www.skl.se/310val (only in Swedish)

For more information about voting in local elections/referendums and how to get your ballot papers, please check: www.val.se

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