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2022 SWEDISH ELECTION

Which political party in Sweden has the best English website?

It’s election year in Sweden, and campaigning is in full swing. But which political parties are reaching out to voters who don’t speak Swedish? Shandana Mufti dug through the websites of the main political parties to see which are doing the best job courting English-speaking voters.

Which political party in Sweden has the best English website?
A collage made from elements of the English language websites of the Social Democrats, Moderates, Sweden Democrats, Christian Democrats, Liberal Party and Green Party. Source: Party websites.

One party made it easy to Google Translate the entire website into a language of your choice, another neglected to make any information available in a language other than Swedish. Other websites were impossible for me to find using the party’s English name.

I found that most of the parties provided basic information about the party’s platform and proposed policies in English, although the care put into this varied: some pages didn’t appear recently updated, others linked to further reading entirely in Swedish.

Two parties reached out to Swedish learners, with basic Swedish as an additional language option. But who will have your vote come September?

Swedish Green Party

While the Green Party’s website is mostly in Swedish, it makes information available in an additional 16 languages including Arabic, French, and Turkish. You can find the “other languages” section here.

People looking for English-language information can read through a brochure that outlines the party’s political ideology and its vision for Sweden. The brochure, titled “Green Ideology – Solidarity in Action”, dates back to the 2018 election, and provides an overview of the values that govern the party and its policies, on topics ranging from the relationship between human beings and their environment, to how investments in public healthcare should be managed.

No information about Green Party leader Märta Stenevi is available in the brochure, and no candidates standing for election are named. Swedish speakers can access much more information than English speakers, including region-specific information on how the party is active across Sweden, and information on how to get involved with the party.

The English offering largely includes information published ahead of the 2018 election, with at least one link leading to a web page that no longer exists.

Centre Party

The Centre Party’s website is published in Swedish – but there is a widget on the homepage which allows you to choose your preferred language from a long list of those supported by Google Translate.

So while the information is written and published in Swedish, the Centre Party has made it easy to access the entirety of its published content in English, or whichever language you prefer (as long as Google Translate supports it!). This means even the most recently published material is accessible to non-Swedish speaking voters, including a biography of party leader Annie Lööf, and its regularly published news items, covering the party’s policies on topics ranging from maintaining biodiversity to calls for a “vibrant equestrian industry”.

There are a few drawbacks to the reliance on Google Translate’s services, however. First, there is a slight lag when clicking through to a new page and waiting for the translated version. Videos obviously aren’t automatically dubbed in a language of the viewer’s choosing – like a video overview of the Centre Party’s policies published on the “Centre Party in Three Minutes” page.

Finally, Google Translate isn’t perfect.  A translated version of one page will tell you that the party believes in putting “a high price tag on dirt”, and not on pollution, as Swedish readers would know from reading the original text.

Social Democrats

Like the Green Party, the Social Democrats have a page linking to limited information about the party for non-Swedish speakers. Here, the twelve languages include Dari, Somali, and easy-to-read Swedish (a great way to test if those SFI classes/Duolingo lessons are paying off).

The page was updated in July 2022 and the same information is available in each language: a two-page document including a message from party leader Magdalena Andersson, and a page highlighting three policy highlights. These highlights deal with the party’s approach to combatting crime and segregation, rehauling the welfare system, and growing green industries.

In addition, at the bottom of the Other Languages page, there is a link to the English language pages on the Election Authority’s website, detailing how exactly the voting process works, and how to vote in this year’s national, municipal, and county elections.

Christian Democrat Party

This one’s a tough site to navigate. Even landing on the homepage took time, because Googling Christian Democrats does not provide an immediate link to their website. To get that, you need to switch your search term to the party’s Swedish name, Kristdemokraterna, after which their website is the first search result.

So not a great start. On the homepage, there are no links to content in another language. Eventually, I gave up on looking, and typed “English” into the search bar – success! The “The Christian Democrats In Other Languages” page is tucked away under the Vår Politik (“our policies”) menu. Find it here

Information is available in 13 languages, and like the Social Democrats’ content, this information is in the form of a two-page document that highlights the party’s leader, Ebba Busch (although it is at least two years old, as it calls her by her former married name, Ebba Busch Thor, which she hasn’t used since 2020), and the party’s most important policies, including employing more police officers, ending quotas on parental leave, and building more homes for the elderly.

There’s also some pushback against common “preconceptions” of the party: they’re not more pious than other Swedish parties, but have “never tried to hide the fact that our policies are based on a stable foundation that stands firm over time, with Judeo-Christian values as the cornerstone.”

Moderate Party

Like several other parties on this list, the Moderates keep all their content in other languages on their own separate page. This one is easy to find, on a drop-down menu that is easily found on the homepage. English is among the 13 languages in which this information is available – others include Turkish, Finnish, and Polish.

Instead of linking to an uploaded document, clicking on one of the 13 languages will take you to a separate page published on the website, titled “How we will put Sweden in order”. The text published here paints a bleak picture of Sweden: from gang violence to reliance on fossil fuels, to inadequate care for cancer patients. 

The Sweden the Moderates present is one that needs to be put in order. There is no information about the party leader, Ulf Kristersson, or any other politicians available in English. In a four-point list at the bottom of the page, the party outlines its proposals for tackling Sweden’s problems. After each point is a “read more” link – and each of these links leads to pages published exclusively in Swedish, leaving non-Swedish speakers wondering what the solutions to these problems might be.

Left Party

Like the Christian Democrats, the Left Party’s website is difficult to find on Google without resorting to searching for it using the party’s Swedish name, Vänsterpartiet. And it gets worse. Nothing on their website, it seems, is available in English. Nothing on the drop-down menu suggests content in other languages; searching English and Engelska turned up nothing. In desperation, I looked up “Vänsterpartiet Engelska” on Google – and found a page put up by the party’s Borlänge chapter, last updated in 2014, that provided a brief overview of the party in English. For further reading, the page recommends the party’s Wikipedia page. I learned on Wikipedia that the party’s leader is Nooshi Dadgostar. I didn’t read on.

Liberals

Here’s another party that’s most easily Googled using its Swedish name, Liberalerna. Their “Other languages” page is also difficult to find. I Googled “Liberalerna English” before landing on it, but it is available in an impressive 23 languages. This includes, like the Social Democrats, an easy-to-read Swedish version of the party’s platform. Like on the Moderates’ website, clicking on any of the languages will take you to a separate page on the website. The English translation is far from perfect, with some clunky constructions and some elementary grammatical errors. 

On this page, the party’s most important policies – freedom, education, and integration – are highlighted, along with a very short biography of party leader Johan Pehrson. Among the integration policies highlighted on the page is a “Focus on the Swedish language”. The easy-to-read Swedish page makes sense then – it’s a chance reach out to readers who are working on their language skills, but aren’t fluent in Swedish just yet.

Sweden Democrats

In what was a first in my research, Googling “Sweden Democrats” brought me directly to a page published in English. From the homepage too, this page is easy to find, under a header titled “English”. The page is in-depth, although the translation is far from perfect.

“We have been eyed thoroughly and we have been in the wrong sometimes, not least in the early years,” it reads. “But we have matured, and we have learned from our experience.”

It also gives an overview of the party’s position on where the country stands, a section on what the party has done since the 2018 election, and finally, what the party wants – its platform for the future. Like the Moderates, the Swedish Democrats paint a dark picture of Sweden – one they say that their party foresaw, and one that they can set straight.

Information about the party leader, Jimmie Åkesson, is not available on the English page; nor is information about the party’s candidates.

So who had the best website for English speakers?

Overall, the Social Democrats’ website had the best website for English speakers. The Sweden Democrats were also in the running, with their comprehensive overview page. So was the Centre Party’s approach of making it possible to translate the entire website with a Google Translate widget – an innovative approach, but the technology is still in need of fine-tuning. 

The Social Democrats’ website is easy to navigate. The information they provide is up-to-date, and is consistent across the various language offerings. I found the easy-to-read Swedish option to be a nice touch. What really set this website apart, however, was that they included a link to the election authority’s page on how Swedish elections and the voting process work. Knowing who to vote for is only one half of the puzzle – knowing exactly how and where to vote is also crucial. 

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2022 SWEDISH ELECTION

PART TWO: What election pledges have Sweden’s political parties made this year?

In the second part of The Local's election pledge series, we look into the election pledges of Sweden's four smallest parties: the Left Party, the Christian Democrats, the Liberals and the Greens.

PART TWO: What election pledges have Sweden's political parties made this year?

This is the second part of a two-part series on Sweden’s political parties’ election pledges for 2022. You can read the first part here, covering the Social Democrats, the Moderates, the Sweden Democrats and the Centre Party.

Left Party

The Left Party’s election pledge is to “create a more secure Sweden”. It will do this by “taking back control over welfare and making life better for normal people”, after “many years of market solutions and privatisation”.

Another important issue for the Left Party, it says, is the “climate transition and what needs to be done to solve the climate crisis”.

In its 17-page election platform document, the Left Party lists a range of topics including the climate, job security, education, equal healthcare, protection of an independent cultural sector and co-owned welfare across the country.

Left Party Nooshi Dadgostar kicks off her election tour in Piteå, northern Sweden. Photo: Pär Bäckström/TT

On the climate, the Left Party says that “investments in green technology, industry and infrastructure, expanded energy capacity and strengthened governance based on new, tightened climate goals is needed”.

“Industries need to adapt from fossil fuels to renewables with the help of large state investments,” the Left Party says, proposing “a green transition-fund, where the state uses its financial muscles, and where money is transferred from dirty companies to climate and environmentally friendly production.”

The Left Party is also critical of Sweden’s right-wing parties in its election pledge, stating that right-wing politics “is about attacking immigrants, the sick, unemployed and people with disabilities, and limiting our access to welfare.”

Left Party proposals to make Sweden more secure include building more housing and lowering rent, introducing a progressive property tax which would tax “luxury properties more, while the majority of homeowners would not have higher taxes”, rebuilding the pension system so that “you can live off your pension, not just survive,” and improving unemployment insurance (a-kassa), so that “the unemployed know they have good a-kassa, and don’t need to worry about moving to a cheaper apartment, selling their house or not having food on the table.”

The Left Party also wants to improve job security and reduce gig work, temporary employment and part time jobs, adding that “workers with foreign backgrounds are overrepresented in insecure, low paid and stressful jobs”.

“None of us should have to deal with racism at work or be dependent on their employer in order to be able to stay in Sweden,” the Left Party says.

Christian Democrat leader Ebba Busch holds her summer election speech at Hönö on Sweden’s west coast.
Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

Christian Democrats

In Christian Democrat leader Ebba Busch’s summer speech in the run-up to September’s election, she highlighted issues such as healthcare, living costs and electricity production.

Busch also highlighted policing and law and order issues, such as giving the police more resources to fight gang crime, introducing sentences for antisocial crimes against the police and installing more security cameras.

On healthcare, the Christian Democrats proposed a national plan for maternity care, in an election pledge that the party sees as the first stage in its plan to replace Sweden’s regional health authorities with a national health service. 

“Swedish healthcare is suffering from a system failure, which is spelled ‘regions’,” Busch said in her summer speech. 

The plan would see the reopening of closed maternity clinics and wards, and a guarantee that threatened clinics and wards be kept open. 

On living costs, Busch highlighted fuel prices, promising to lower petrol prices by five kronor and diesel by nine kronor, by reducing the reduktionsplikt, a law which forces companies selling fossil fuels to lower their emissions by mixing their fuels with more expensive, more environmentally friendly biofuels.

On electricity production, Busch called for a reopening of the Ringhals nuclear reactors as well as expanding Sweden’s water and wind power production, “but only where suitable”.

Liberal party leader Johan Pehrson holds his summer election speech in Gothenburg. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

Liberals

The Liberals’ most important election policies, according to their website, are schools and education, integration and the climate. 

On schools, the Liberals have proposed a national campaign to bring order to Swedish schools, which the party is calling an ordningslyft, literally “order lift”. 

The campaign will include an “order contract”, signed by all pupils and parents, and five other proposals, of which two are new. 

The two new proposals are that the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) state clearly that pupils have a responsibility for order in schools, and must come in time for lessons, look after their school books, use decent language, and arrive rested for lessons. Parents also share responsibility, and must, for instance, come to parent-teacher meetings. 

On integration, the Liberals’ main policy is a so-called förortslyft or “suburb lift”, aimed at reducing the number of areas classed as “vulnerable” where police struggle to combat crime, so that no areas of Sweden fall into this category by 2030.

The Liberals say that many “new Swedes end up in crowded suburbs marked by crime and low school results,” and that “many have their freedom and opportunities limited as they lack jobs and lack language ability.”

Their goal for combatting the exclusion they see in Sweden is to make it “easier to get a job quickly and support yourself financially – even for those who don’t speak good Swedish or lack an education”.

To do this, they propose introducing “entry-jobs for the young and new arrivals with a slightly lower salary for the first job and simpler rules”.

They also aim to prevent and work to dismantle “parallel societies”, by combatting honour-related violence “through more knowledge, but also stricter penalties”, and introducing “a stop for new religious free schools as they prevent integration”.

On the climate, the Liberals want to see more investments in solar, wind and nuclear power, as well as “more electricity and cheap electricity” in order to succeed with the “climate transition”, as well as encouraging people to buy electric cars, introducing electric public transport and electric goods transport.

In addition to this, in order to lower energy prices, the Liberals propose lowering taxes on electricity – specifically, lowering VAT and excise tax on electricity.

Green Party co-leadsers Märta Stenevi and Per Bolund at Almedalen.
Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Green Party

The Green Party’s three main focus areas are the climate, equality and democracy and human rights.

On the climate, its main goals are to stop climate change, protect biodiversity, transition to a society which “stays within the boundaries of nature” and “build a future to look forwards to”.

To do this, it will “tighten Sweden’s climate goals based on the best research available”, “support the climate transition in all parts of society, in all branches and across the country”, “introduce ambitious climate law at EU level and legislate for a European, binding emissions budget”, “invest in on-time trains across Sweden, more night trains to Europe, a European trains union for simpler train journeys in Europe and new high speed trains”, and “replace fossil fuels and diesel with 100% renewable fuel and electricity in Sweden and in the EU”.

On equality, the Green Party’s goals are to end male violence against women, stop honour-related violence, for women to have more power and better salaries and pensions, promote equal responsibility for home and children and continue to “promote feminist foreign policy for the climate, aid and peace”.

Some of it’s policy proposals on these points include encouraging state-owned employers to introduce equal salaries and a right to full-time work, an increase on guarantee pensions for those with little or no income in Sweden, introducing earmarked parental leave days for each parent and introducing female quotas in listed companies and state-owned companies.

On democracy and human rights, the Greens want to make it more difficult to change Sweden’s constitution, improve the rights of minorities, protect free media and protect public service in Sweden’s constitution, introduce a national citizenship initiative system (including, for example, legislation proposed by citizens), increase transparency in the public sector and lower the voting age to 16.

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