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Swedes set to ignore church elections

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Swedes set to ignore church elections
10:42 CEST+02:00
Polling booths will open across Sweden on Sunday to welcome voters in the national church elections. The election is however expected to be ignored by 90 percent of the registered voters.

Most Swedes remain members of the Church of Sweden, in fact 5.6 million (of a population of just over 9) are eligible to vote in Sunday's election, but according to forecasts few are expected to turn out to register their preference.

"Participation has declined in recent elections and it is likely to continue to decline. There are no issues that generate interest," Jan Strid a researcher at the SOM institute told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.

The election appoints representatives to parish assemblies (or parish councils), to association vestries in an association of parishes, to the Diocesan Council and to the national General Synod.

The run up to the election has been notable for the criticism directed at Social Democrat party leader Mona Sahlin choosing to attend a party on Mallorca instead of campaigning in an election that she had previously equated to a general election in importance.

Furthermore the church has been criticized for having few immigrants occupying positions within the church and on the election roll - despite the fact that around half of those attending church across the country on Sundays have backgrounds from outside of Sweden.

The breakdown according to gender is little better with the majority of the senior positions within the church held by men, despite women gaining the right to be ordained as pastors some 51 years ago.

For those keen to register their votes election polling centres will be open until 8pm on Sunday with the first results expected at shortly after 10pm.

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