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International observers to monitor Swedish election for first time

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International observers to monitor Swedish election for first time
Ballot papers pictured during the 2014 election. File photo: https://www.thelocal.se/20180222/sweden-warns-of-certain-foreign-powers-meddling-in-the-2018-election
07:47 CEST+02:00
For the first time in a Swedish election, observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will be present in the country to oversee the vote, according to reports in Swedish media.

"This is the first time we have had any form of mission or observation activity in Sweden for an election," the organization's spokesperson Thomas Rymer told Sveriges Radio.

The decision was made following discussions with politicians, representatives of the Swedish media, and some of those involved in organizing the election.

Before the 2010 vote, a working group was sent to Sweden to evaluate if there was a need for observers during the election that year. They reached the conclusion that this was not necessary, but when a similar evaluation was carried out earlier this year, OSCE decided to send two people to Sweden to monitor the September poll.

READ ALSO: Sweden warns of 'certain foreign powers' meddling in 2018 election

One of the observers' tasks is to take a close look at how the parties' election campaigns have been financed.

Other issues they will be looking into include making sure there are enough ballot papers for all parties in each voting place, particularly in sparsely populated areas, and that a secret ballot is guaranteed by ensuring the papers are in a spot obstructed from public view.

At Swedish polling booths, voters choose from different ballot papers depending on which party they want to vote for -- voters may also take several ballots before going behind the screen to vote in order to keep their choice secret.

OSCE spokesperson Rymer said that the organization's presence in Sweden should not be "dramatized", adding: "There are no perfect elections."

The OSCE often sends observers to monitor elections, including in the recent German, Austrian and Italian votes.

Voting has in fact already begun in Sweden's September 9th election, with Swedes overseas the first to head to the polls after voting opened in embassies and consulates around the world last week.

READ ALSO: How robust is Sweden's democracy? (Clue: not very)

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