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'Wrong' Björn Andersson elected to local Swedish council

David Landes · 25 Nov 2010, 16:50

Published: 25 Nov 2010 16:50 GMT+01:00

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Andersson received a letter informing him he had been elected as a representative on the local council in Tierp in eastern Sweden, the local Arbetarbladet newspaper reports.

Since he isn't politically active, Andersson was confused by the letter, assuming there had been some mistake.

What he didn't realise was that there was another Björn Andersson in the area who was an active member of the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) and who had run for a seat on the council in Sweden's recent general elections.

Ever since election day more than two months ago, Liberal Party member Björn Andersson had assumed he had won a seat on the council.

However, according to the letter of the law, the apolitical Björn Andersson actually holds the seat.

"I found out about it yesterday when a reporter called me and told me about it," the politically active Björn Andersson told The Local.

According to him, the mix-up likely occurred well before the election when the party filed papers for his candidacy.

Andersson noticed that one of the forms stated he was 66 years old when he is 64 years old.

"I thought it was simply a typo," he said, adding he alerted party officials about the mistake and didn't think much of it.

But the error was actually a consequence of the wrong personal identification number (personnummer) being included in the papers filed by the Liberal Party.

As it turned out, the error resulted in keeping the Liberal Party's Björn Andersson off the ballot, replacing him with that of the other Björn Andersson.

The unintentional candidate, an engineer in the manufacturing industry, told Arbetarbladet that he had no intentions of trying to retain the seat despite his right to do so.

"It was a quick decision. Politics is too tedious," he said.

"I'm not politically active at all. But the Liberal Party probably needs to do a better job of keeping track of its candidates."

The Liberal Party's Björn Andersson explained that mistakes can occur in the frenzied work ahead of an election.

"There is so much work involved with preparing for the elections, everyone in the party is working hard, so it's not surprising that someone can make a mistake. I think you have to attribute it to simple human error," he said.

And while he finds the whole incident "sort of funny," the politician said that his relaxed attitude has much to do with his doppelgänger's lack of interest in politics.

"It's easy to laugh at it, but at the same time, if he had wanted to keep the seat, that would be quite serious," said Andersson, adding that Swedes perhaps "take it for granted" that such mistakes can't occur.

Story continues below…

"It's frightening, really. You assume that society has controls in place so things like this can't happen."

While he's relieved that the "wrong" Björn Andersson is willing to give up the seat, the 'right' Björn Andersson still isn't sure about what bureaucratic steps must take place to enact the change.

"He has been formally elected, so I'm not sure how they’re going to fix it," he said.

County election official Arne Åhman told Arbetarbladet that the county governing board will look into how to correct the mistake, adding that he is certain that voters had in fact thought they were casting a ballot for the Liberal Party politician, rather than a local manufacturing engineer.

While he admitted that the error managed to slip through all the normal controls, he emphasised that the party was to blame.

"Here someone has taken information from the population registry and ended up with another Björn Andersson with a similar personal identity number," he told the newspaper.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

19:51 November 25, 2010 by facetedjewel
A bureaucratic mistake in Sweden . . . time-honored political flimflam for filling minor posts in the US. Keeps the unsuspecting candidate from preemptive protest. "Nonononono . . . Too late, Your Dudeness, see you on Monday. "
22:01 November 25, 2010 by Da Goat
What a stupid system sweden has Identifying people by number and electing them by name

this is the most stupid thing i have ever heard of! (well nearly anyway)
22:27 November 25, 2010 by ISayWhatPeopleThink
Yup, especially since most Swedes have the same or similar names.


STEP 1 - Boy or Girl, pick a corresponding first name:

Daniel / Eva

Joakim / Annika

Björn / Therese

Fredrik / Maria

Sven / Anne

Lars / Camilla

Erik / Erika

Andreas / Hanna

Peter / Sofia

Mikael / Jessika

STEP 2 - Now choose a prefix for your last name:







STEP 3 - Now choose a suffix and add it to the prefix from step 2:







(or if you're in a pinch for time, pick another first name from list #1 and slap "-son" at the end of it. )


Ta-daaa! Congrats, you now have a perfectly boring Swedish name made from the same building blocks, like 99% of the country. Welcome to the Borg.
00:35 November 26, 2010 by glamelixir
My husband's original surename was Lundström and at some point the family decided to change it to a more original one.

As you see, there are also Swedes who go against the system! haha.
02:11 November 26, 2010 by facetedjewel

Pushing away from the holiday feast, and seriously considering skipping the pie in favor of a sounder night's sleep, I want to take a moment to consider your supposition about Swedish names and thus, Swedish people . . . wait, what the f**k? First, you could probably travel to any country and find that most of the population have 'common' names for that culture. Something about creating a sense of belonging, safety in the middle of the herd. Second, I don't know any Swedes, ex-pat or otherwise, that fit your formula. Third, I've never met a borg-ish Swede . . . ironicly humorous often, but drones? - not hardly.

So, I SAYWHATPEOPLETHINK, you don't think what I think.
03:44 November 26, 2010 by Tanskalainen
Bjorn Conspiracy.
08:17 November 26, 2010 by ISayWhatPeopleThink
facetedjewel: If you lived here and not in the U.S. you'd get the joke. And you are correct, ex-pat Swedes are free of the Borg attitude, they're a fun bunch outside of the clutches of Jantelagen.

Move here someday and you'll get the joke. I'm also from the States, and I know I wouldn't have understood either before I moved here. :P The names situation is true, and while common names are indeed found, many can't compare to the name similarities found in Scandinavia, with exception to perhaps the Middle East. ;)
10:01 November 26, 2010 by tommy the cat



You're right on the money.
10:07 November 26, 2010 by Streja
Lundström and the other names were introduced or rather invented by families because the -sson names had become too common.

The rules were changed way back when surnames were just the father's name with -sson or -dotter added to them.

All of a sudden women were -sson as well and the surnames did not change in the family, instead they were moved on to the next generation as long as a son was born.
11:27 November 26, 2010 by Swedesmith

At least Swedes can express their individuality when it comes time to select a color to paint their country homes.
17:50 November 26, 2010 by facetedjewel

I got the 'joke' and the tone it was conveyed in; I just didn't think it was funny. Bitter maybe, but not funny.
10:24 November 27, 2010 by ISayWhatPeopleThink
Swedesmith: Heheh, good one. :D I bet stuga colors are almost as varying as brands of milk at the grocery store. Must be a fun job working at the paint section of the hardware store. "Oh, stuga paint? Why yes, we have that. Would you be interested in barn red, or perhaps barn red? What? You want YELLOW?"

*gets on the store intercom* "Manager to the paint section, we have a rebel in the store!"


facetedjewel: For God's sake woman lighten up. Again, move here and stay a few years and then we'll see if you still get your panties in a twist over a joke. I was once like you too, met a nice Swedish boy in the states and married him. Lived there five years and had my own imaginary world in my head about Sweden and the Swedes from what he told me, and the friends we had come over to visit and stay with us. I thought Sweden was the perfect fairytale land with the most perfect people too, and I was an expert on the subject (so I thought) because of all the Swedes I knew.

Now I've been in Sweden 10 years. Trust me, it doesn't take long to discover Swedes are totally different people once they are on home soil. But hey, tell you what...with your bleeding patriotism and defensive stance for a land you've never lived in, you really *should* move here. You'll fit right in. Just be sure to do what everyone else says, and act just like how everyone else acts. You already have one great quality since you lack a sense of humor.

Walk in the shoes and then you can tell me how they fit, princess. ;)
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