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POLITICS

Sweden ‘world’s third most democratic country’

Sweden is the third most democratic country in the world, according to the latest edition of the Economist's Democracy Index.

Sweden 'world's third most democratic country'
People cast their ballots on voting day. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Only its Nordic neighbours Norway and Iceland scored higher in the ranking.

A total of 20 countries (home to only 4.5 percent of the global population) were judged to be 'fully democratic' while the rest of the 167 countries included in the survey were classed as 'flawed democracies'.

The index was based on the following categories: electoral process and pluralism, the functioning of government, political participation, democratic political culture and civil liberties. Overall, 2018 was the first time in three years that the overall score remained stable, with more countries improving their score than declining.

Sweden celebrated one century of democracy in 2018, and held a general election the same year. Turnout was up on the previous election, but the vote led to a very close result between the two major blocs. The country is still without a new government.

From the start of 2019, Sweden's electoral law was updated with a requirement that the area where ballot papers are located in a polling place must be hidden from view from other voters. This is in order to better guarantee voter secrecy, since Sweden's ballot papers have the name and logo of the chosen party on them.

The law change followed a report from international observers monitoring Sweden's election for the first time, which recommended improved secrecy as well as tighter rules on campaign funding.

IN DEPTH: How robust is Sweden's democracy? (Clue: not very)

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2022 SWEDISH ELECTION

Sweden’s right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The four parties backing Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson as prime minister on Sunday announced that they had agreed to keep the current Speaker, Andreas Norlén in place, when the role is put to a vote as parliament opens on Monday.

Sweden's right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The parties won a three-seat majority over the bloc led by the incumbent Social Democrats in Sweden’s general election on September 11th, and are currently in the middle of negotiating how they will form Sweden’s next government. 

Sweden’s parliament meets at 11am for the official installation of the 349 MPs for this mandate period. The votes for the Speaker and three Deputy Speakers are the first item on the agenda, after which the parties each select their parliamentary leaders and then vote on who should chair each of the parliamentary committees. 

READ ALSO: What happens next as parliament reopens? 

In a joint press release announcing the decision, the parties also agreed that the Sweden Democrats would be given eight of the 16 chairmanships the bloc will have of parliamentary committees in the next parliament, and that MPs for all four parties would back Julia Kronlid, the Sweden Democrats’ Second Deputy Leader, as the second deputy Speaker, serving under Norlén. 

In the press release, the parties said that Norlén had over the last four years shown that he has “the necessary personal qualities and qualifications which the role requires”. 

The decision to retain Norlén, who presided over the 134 days of talks and parliamentary votes that led to the January Agreement in 2019, was praised by Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson. 

Norlén, she said in a statement, had “managed his responsibilities well over the past four years and been a good representative of Sweden’s Riksdag.” 

The decision to appoint Kronlid was opposed by both the Left Party and the Green Party, who said that she supported tightening abortion legislation, and did not believe in evolution.

The Green Party’s joint leader Märta Stenevi said that her party “did not have confidence in Julia Kronlid”, pointing to an interview she gave in 2014 when she said she did not believe that humans were descended from apes.

The party has proposed its finance spokesperson Janine Alm Ericson as a rival candidate. 

The Left Party said it was planning to vote for the Centre Party’s candidate for the post second deputy Speaker in the hope of blocking Kronlid as a candidate.

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