Sweden: A model for environmentally-friendly campaigns

Sweden: A model for environmentally-friendly campaigns
Photo: Mohd Shafiq Sharhan bin Zainal
Malaysian national Mohd Shafiq Sharhan bin Zainal from Blekinge Institute of Technology's NFGL Local Network reflects on how the Swedish focus on sustainability was carried out during the election campaigns of September.

On September 9th 2018, Swedes went to carry out their democratic duty at the polls.  As a newly-arrived student from Malaysia, I couldn’t help but notice the focus on sustainability carried through the whole campaign pre-election in Sweden compared to what I experienced in Malaysia when we went to vote on May 9th.

Photo: Elections in Malaysia 

I observed a difference in how election campaigns are run in Sweden compared Malaysia, with a focus on sustainability and especially cleanliness and cost saving. Most of the campaign materials, posters and banners were displayed in designated locations using appropriate advertising spaces. Even in the heat of the election period, no banners or signs were placed randomly which is definitely not the case in Malaysia.

For the most part, campaign materials only had photos of the candidate and their respective political parties. Additional information was available on their websites. It was almost impossible for me, and I assume for anyone else visiting Sweden during this time, to notice that there was a pre-election campaign running, just because of the respect of advertising rules.

I also noticed that after the elections, campaign materials were immediately removed, replaced by other business advertisements. Irrespective of the results of the polls, it was business as usual, and everything continued as if nothing had happened. The opposite of this happens in Malaysia as a result of the sheer amount of campaign materials that have been used. It requires a lot of work and human resources to clean the cities of the mess caused during campaigns. As of now, there are still some remnants of the last election yet to be cleaned!

Photo: Elections in Sweden

The campaign advertisements in Sweden mainly abstained from using plastic and paper for posters and banners. This is entirely different from what I’ve seen in Malaysia and in other countries. The rules of the Swedish campaign advertising is, in my opinion, a model to be followed by other countries for a more sustainable future.