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Swedes overseas start voting in the September election

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Swedes overseas start voting in the September election
Women sit and talk opposite campaign posters for the Social Democrats. Photo: Erik Simander / TT
12:14 CEST+02:00
Sweden's general election is fast approaching, with party campaign posters appearing on the country's streets and political promises making headlines. But while there are still more than three weeks to go until most Swedes head to the polls, voting began on Thursday for those living overseas.

More than half a million Swedes live outside the country and around 165,000 of them are eligible to vote, making up 2.2. percent of the country's total eligible voters.

These votes are to take place at 248 embassies and consulates across the world starting from today, while overseas voters also have the option of submitting a postal vote. Those opting for a postal vote may have even submitted them already, as it's possible to send them off from 45 days before the election.

READ ALSO: How to vote in the 2018 election

Swedish citizens living abroad get the automatic right to vote in parliamentary elections for their first ten years abroad, after which they need to apply to the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket) every ten years to remain on the electoral register. Swedes who are temporarily abroad over the date of the election can vote by post, in an embassy, or by proxy.

In Sydney, graphic designer Johan Sundberg went to cast his vote at around 10am, making him one of the first Swedes in the world to have their say in the 2018 election.

"It feels pretty cool to be one of the first," he told the TT newswire. "Lots of people wait until the last minute, but here you don't have much choice."

Despite the distance from his home country, he has kept up to date with the election campaign, and said he followed Swedish media closely. "Even if it's quite far away, it feels like you're there and can follow it," he said. 

According to number-crunching agency SCB, around 32 percent of Swedes abroad who are eligible to vote actually do so, compared to the high turnout of around 85 percent when it comes to the Swedish population as a whole.

One issue is that not all those residing overseas may realize they have the option of voting. 

Swede Fredrik Morsing who lives in Accra, Ghana, told Sveriges Radio: "I've been abroad on other occasions and have found it hard to vote. We've tried to spread the word that you can come here [to the Swedish consulate, one of those open for the first time for voters] and vote, and we've put up posters." 

More on the 2018 election:

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