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Swedish election: politicians, where's the vision?

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Swedish election: politicians, where's the vision?
Election campaign posters in Sweden. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT
07:59 CEST+02:00
A bigger vision for Sweden is missing from the election campaign, writes Swedish tech star and startup founder Johan Attby in this opinion piece.

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With less than a week left until the election, the streets of Stockholm are peppered with party billboards and their leaders appear on every possible TV and radio show. Their messages, which are repeated over and over again, make me feel... nothing.

There's so much monotony in this election cycle. It's as if they're playing the same tape as previous years, with a slightly refined tune and – in the spirit of the American election – a dumbed-down message.

It's the longer or shorter version of this, less or more of that. Crime sentences, taxes, immigration, police force, teachers, nurses, military, CO2 emissions: the list goes on and on.

What is totally lacking is a bigger vision for Sweden, an understanding of the things that will really impact the country, and our citizens, in this modern world.  

For all the words said, there are plenty of topics that remain unmentioned. There has been no talk of the rise of Artificial Intelligence, which is set to revolutionize society and is already impacting people's lives. Or how autonomous vehicles will completely change transportation, and how soon there might not be a human in the driving seat next to you in traffic.

In fact, there has been no focus on the growth of automation – which is making millions of people redundant, while likely creating new jobs in industries that are yet to even exist. This will mean many have to retrain to adapt to the new industrial revolution.

READ ALSO: Follow The Local's election coverage here


Johan Attby, CEO of Swedish startup Fishbrain. Photo: Private

The rapid advances in medicine aren't being talked about either. People aren't paying enough attention to how many more of us will see our 100th birthday, and the enormous effect this will have on our pensions and healthcare. Current offerings from politicians to increase the pension age to 67, or add a few thousand nurses, is nothing more than a band-aid on a far more pressing issue.

There is also little talk about how small and medium-sized companies are now generating the majority of jobs, yet labour laws aimed at large enterprises from decades ago are making life hard for them. Tech companies such as Spotify, Klarna, and iZettle, have created shareholder value on the same scale as Ericsson, ABB, and IKEA before them, but within a much shorter time period. To keep these pioneers in Sweden, we need to solve the issues around housing and taxation on stock options so they can attract the best talent in the world to move here.

There is not enough focus on how we can make Sweden more attractive so that people want to move and work here. Many industries are screaming for talented people to hire, but instead the discussion is all about how we can cut back on who we allow in.

The counter-argument often made is, "Why should we focus on these issues in the short-term, when it will be decades before such policy decisions affect us?" Nothing could be more wrong.

With the exponential advances in technology, changes are happening at an accelerated pace. If we don't act now, we will lose out on all manner of opportunities, while more visionary leaders in other countries take advantage and beat us in the global flat market of today.

This is not to suggest that we shouldn't also make time to discuss the issues already being talked about. But we surely must have time in our wall-to-wall TV and radio coverage for forward-thinking, vision, and conversations about the bigger picture?

Come on politicians, you can do much better than this!

Opinion piece written for The Local by Johan Attby, CEO of Fishbrain, the world's largest community-based fishing app.

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