Around 150,000 Swedes live in the United States, according to the organization Svenskar i Världen. Only 17,508 have of them have the right to vote.

But how much does one care about a country, miles and miles away? According to the SOM Institute in Gothenburg, only about 32% of Swedes living abroad actually exercise their right to vote.

We asked 9 of our Swedish readers to give their thoughts on voting, the election and the political situation in Sweden. This is what they had to say.



ANNIKA JOHANSSON, MANHATTAN, 32+ YEARS IN THE US

Why did you vote in this year’s election? (and if you didn’t: why not?)
I didn’t for two reasons. I have reservations about voting there when I’ve not lived there for so long, even though I visit frequently. I stay fairly well-informed on political news, but it’s not the same as living there. I also realized the deadline for the absentee ballot too late.

Have you followed any type of election coverage?
Yes, I read Dagens Nyheter as well as other European papers that covered the election.

What do you think about the current political situation in Sweden, now after the election?
I’m saddened to see the rise in xenophobia and the mirroring of anti-immigrant rhetoric seen here in the US. I’m worried about seeing so many angry white males in Kungsträdgården. Echoes of Charlottesville.

Are you going to be keeping track of what happens in the next few weeks? 
I will watch to see how the various factions create a coalition.



MARIA MAXWELL, FORT LAUDERDALE, 22 YEARS IN THE US

Why did you vote in this year’s election? (and if you didn’t: why not?)
I did not vote, for the first time this year. I didn’t vote because I can’t support their [the politician’s, Editors note] behavior. They can’t play in the sandbox together. They are acting like kids. A new sport has been invented where they are not going to get along and agree just cause they are another party and not their own.

I think the political situation is a circus just like the US. They keep talking about each other instead of what they can do for the country. They choose to not play nice and I don’t support that.

Have you followed any type of election coverage?
I didn’t follow any coverage except for an occasional log in on Aftonbladet and Expressen online.



SVEN CHILTON, BERKELEY, BORN IN THE US

Why did you vote in this year’s election? (and if you didn’t: why not?)
I voted in the recent Swedish election for the first time ever to play at least a small role in preventing right-wing extremists from taking over the government.

Have you followed any type of election coverage?
I’ve followed only a little bit of the election coverage, partly through articles my friends have shared on social media, partly through the Dagens Nyheter app.

What do you think about the current political situation in Sweden, now after the election?
I recognize that the issues are tricky. Perhaps Sweden let in more immigrants and refugees in recent years than it could reasonably accommodate and it’s certainly true that some recent arrivals haven’t assimilated well. However, halting immigration completely and withdrawing from the Internet community isn’t the answer.

Yes, the changing demographics change what it means to be Swedish, by definition, but many of our country(wo)men forget that what it means to be Swedish has changed continually for centuries. If not, we’d still speak a dialect of Old Norse and understand the Icelanders easily.




FREDRIK BLOMQVIST, PHILADELPHIA, 4 YEARS IN THE US

Why did you vote in this year’s election? (and if you didn’t: why not?)
I voted in this years election (and the last one, and all future ones) because I want to make sure I do my duty as a Swedish citizen in putting my vote down according to how I want the country run. Mostly because I see myself returning permanently one day at some point in life.

Have you followed any type of election coverage?
I followed some of the election coverage. Mostly social media and newspapers, but I also watched Slutdebatten and some Rapport every once in a while.

What do you think about the current political situation in Sweden, now after the election?
I think the current political situation is a mess. Most of the parties are acting like children when they refuse to work with Sverigedemokraterna. I think it’s ridiculous how much bad press that party gets just because of events that happened over 20 years ago, it’s been an incredible dirty election year with tons of lies and misunderstandings directed all over the place. I find this situation very interesting, particularly because I do not spend much time in Sweden anymore.

I really value coming home to a country where the traditions I grew up with are flourishing, where everything is peaceful, and where people act fairly educated. All in all, I love the typical Swedishness. Why would I ever want to go back if the country work to minimize what I love in favor of other countries’ cultures?

I love to travel and explore other countries, but at the same time, I also do not see the issue with preserving what I love back home. It’s just a tiny spot on the earth after all. Nonetheless, I think people are being shallow when they forget to analyze and discuss all the politics of each party, and instead chooses to focus on the most popular/criticized aspects.

Are you going to be keeping track of what happens in the next few weeks? 
I am most definitely going to keep track of what happens next. I am eagerly awaiting a solution to how the country should be run, and I am of course hoping that it will be a mature solution and not some political fiasco like Decemberöverenskommelsen. Not only is it good to be in the know about what goes on in my home country, but it also good to know so that I can explain to others here in the states what is going on in Europe and Sweden, to educate and inform others.




SUNNIVA BRYNNEL, BOSTON, 2 YEARS IN THE US

Why did you vote in this year’s election? (and if you didn’t: why not?)
I voted because I felt strongly enough for one of the parties. I also voted because I trust the democratic system in Sweden and because we are lucky to have it at all.

Have you followed any type of election coverage?
Not all that much. The live debates and similar tend to get extremely, annoyingly polemic, instead of focusing on solving anything.

What do you think about the current political situation in Sweden, now after the election?
I think that not enough people seem to care about environmental issues.

Are you going to be keeping track of what happens in the next few weeks?
Yes, because I’m curious to see what will happen. I’m hopeful that a good coalition will come out of it!

 

 




EINAR STENSSON, BROOKLYN, 4.5 YEARS IN THE US

Why did you vote in this year’s election? (and if you didn’t: why not?)
Funny, I don’t even think about it, I just do. I think I vote because it’s one of the ways I can influence the world for the better.

Have you followed any type of election coverage?
Pretty obsessively. it’s interesting to learn what people are thinking.

What do you think about the current political situation in Sweden, now after the election?
It’s pretty terrible. We are in desperate need for a coordinated and collective effort to build a more equal society and economy where we work and consume less. There is also most likely a recession coming that we should be preparing for. Instead, so many people seem obsessed with the past and blame immigrants for most of their problems.

Are you going to be keeping track of what happens in the next few weeks?
Yes, I’m curious about what people think.




AMIN RONAGHI, SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, 12 YEARS IN THE US

Why did you vote in this year’s election? (If you didn’t vote: why not?)
I firmly believe that voting is the cornerstone of political action, so I have exerted my right to participate in every election I’ve been eligible for since I’ve been 18 years old. I voted in the 2018 Swedish parliamentary elections because I felt like my vote would matter.

I have been out of the country for 12 years, but have gone back to Sweden annually and I have observed a shift in the national perspective towards specific political questions. I have seen the resurgence of right-wing parties in Sweden and decided to cast my vote to counter it. For one, the rapid growth of right-wing parties globally deeply concerns me, and second, they have failed to convince me that they have a solid understanding of the issues they try to tackle.

Simple solutions to complex problems fail because a complex problem demands you start by admitting that complexity exists. Living in the US has deeply impacted my interpretation of Swedish politics, I have come to realize that Socialism and Capitalism share the same problem. They don’t understand greed. Socialism doesn’t understand how it motivates and capitalism doesn’t understand how it corrupts.

Have you followed any type of election coverage?
Yes, I maintain a diligent following of Swedish policy. For this election, I started off by asking friends and family in Sweden of the political issues they saw as a priority and tried to get their view on things. After that, I started reading the platforms of different political parties, doing online quizzes to determine my “match”, and watching the political debates on TV.

What do you think about the current political situation in Sweden, now after the election?
Well, the country is divided, and there is no one-size-fits-all type of party that will be suitable for everyone. I believe that there should be more collaboration between ALL political parties, working systematically to achieve a successful government. For example, if there are grievances regarding immigration, the governing body HAS to take into consideration the wishes of SD – almost 20% of the country voted for them!

However, that doesn’t mean that they are in any way encouraged to enact the radical policies put forth. Swedish policy, regardless of political alignment, acts to address perceived national issues, rather than identifying root causes of these issues. It’s likely the political parties have similar goals, however, the information to tackle the problems are limited due to incomplete surveys/statistics and refusal to acknowledge intrinsic problems originating from Swedish mentality itself.

Are you going to be keeping track of what happens in the next few weeks?
Yes, I will be watching closely. First off, I am awaiting the results from votes cast from the US, as I’m curious to see the effect the Trump presidency has had on the appeal of Swedish-Americans to vote for right-wing parties, i.e. Sverige Demokraterna.

I’m also excited to see how political parties will navigate through the difficult dead-lock they’re currently in to come up with a functional government.




FANNY STRÖMSTEDT, BROOKLYN, 2 YEARS IN THE US

Why did you vote in this year’s election? (If you didn’t vote: why not?)
I voted in this election and the last one four years ago, which was my first time since I’m 22 today. I voted because it’s my democratic responsibility as a citizen.

There are way too many people in the world that don’t have that privilege. As a woman, it’s even worse in many countries, so I would never miss an election, not even while living abroad. I was home in Stockholm during the summer and I could have sent my vote through the mail, but I thought it was more fun to visit the Consulate in New York instead.

I did it with three other Swedes at my school, so it became a little trip!

Have you followed any type of election coverage?
I’ve kept up with the election a bit, and I’m pretty well read. I’ve seen several of the debates and done several “Who Should I Vote for” Q&As.

What do you think about the current political situation in Sweden, now after the election?

I think that the situation in Sweden after the election is a catastrophe. It’s not yet clear who has gotten the majority power. What irritates me is that so many votes from abroad were and are still delayed. I voted the on August 30th, which was the last day to vote here in New York and it still takes such a long time to get the votes delivered over. If that’s the case, they should set updates at the embassies and consulates so they can deliver the votes to Sweden in a timely manner. 

I think the results of the election were pretty expected. It would be divided almost equally between the blocks and unfortunately, SD would have a lot of influence. I do, however, think that it’s childish when the party leaders refuses to collaborate with each other. Decisions will never be made then. It’s not good for Sweden, and I hope they come up with a solution soon. I think it’s a bit embarrassing to talk to my American friends about the situation in Sweden and how SD has such a strong influence.

Are you going to be keeping track of what happens in the next few weeks?
Of course. I read the news every day.




JONAS VESTERLUND, VIRGINIA, 16 YEARS IN THE US

Why did you vote in this year’s election? (If you didn’t vote: why not?)
I always vote in the Swedish election. So many people in this world can’t vote, so since I can, it is important to do so. This year my son voted for the first time. Different party than me, but that is all good.

What do you think about the current political situation in Sweden, now after the election?
The current political situation is less than ideal. It seems that many seek trust answers with more extreme political affiliations, and that is not good. There seems to be a disconnect and discontent between politicians and some voters.

Are you going to be keeping track of what happens in the next few weeks?
I always listen to the lunch mews broadcast from Swedish national radio, browse through one of the larger newspapers web editions daily, and maybe catch some TV news too, so I will continue with that. Just like everyone one else, I am curious as to WHO can form a government and HOW. So yes I will pay extra attention in the following if weeks.






Elina Sundqvist
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Elina Sundqvist

Managing Editor at Swedes in the States
Elina Sundqvist is originally from Luleå and finished her bachelor in journalism and multimedia before moving to Los Angeles in 2016.

She is the Managing Editor at Swedes in the States. For editorial inquiries: elina@swedesinthestates.com
Elina Sundqvist
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