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Electoral accountability is widely considered to be an essential component for maintaining the quality of a polity’s institutions. Nevertheless, a growing body of research has found weak or limited support for the notion that voters punish political corruption, a central but partial aspect of institutional quality. In order to capture the full range of institutional dysfunction an electorate should be incentivised to punish, I further the concept of institutional performance voting, that is, voting on institutional quality as a whole. Using a novel data set on performance audit reports in Swedish municipalities between 2003 and 2014, I find that audit critique is associated with a statistically significant but substantively moderate electoral loss of about a percentage point for mayoral parties, while simultaneously associated with a 14 percentage point decrease in their probability of reelection.
This chapter assesses the evolution of the Moderates, the key catch-all party on the mainstream right in Sweden, within the context of an embedded post-materialist political culture and an emboldened populist radical right party. More specifically, the chapter looks at how the Moderates have developed electorally, ideologically and strategically since the 1990s. The key argument is that the ‘silent counter-revolution’ has been quite challenging for the Moderates across different arenas (i.e., electoral, governing and internal arena) and that the party had major difficulties, at least initially, in adapting to a new political landscape.
Abortion has been available in Sweden, since 1975, on request and without regards to reason, for up to 18 weeks’ gestation and in specific circumstances through 21 +6 weeks’ gestation. Abortion care is viewed as core component of obstetric and gynecological and midwifery care. Medical students in Sweden all receive theoretical training and are offered clinical rotation to abortion care. Similarly, all students in midwifery receive theoretical training in abortion and some clinical training. Core competencies for the registered nurse-midwives include the ability to care for women in abortion care including post abortion contraceptive counselling and provision. For residents in obstetrics and gynecology, training in abortion care is mandatory. Not permitting conscientious objection for any professional cadre guarantees prompt access to services for women seeking abortion care in Sweden, consistent with the principle that abortion is a right and a core service to which access should not be delayed.
Sweden's coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response, initially based largely on voluntary measures, has evoked strong reactions nationally and internationally. In this study, we describe Sweden's national policy response with regard to the general public, the community and the health care system, with a focus on how the response changed from March 2020 to June 2021. A number of factors contributed to Sweden's choice of policy response, including its existing legal framework, independent expert agencies and its decentralized, multi-level health care governance system. Challenges to the health- and elder care system during the pandemic, such as the need to increase intensive care- and testing capacity, and to ensure the safety of the elderly were addressed largely at the regional and local levels, with national authorities assuming a primarily coordinative role. Although the overall response based on voluntary compliance has persisted, the national government started to take a more prominent role in public messaging, and in enacting legally binding restrictions during subsequent waves of the pandemic. This study illustrates that not only policy responses, but also the fundamental structure of the health- and elder care system and its governance should be considered when evaluating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This volume addresses current concerns about the climate and environmental sustainability by exploring one of the key drivers of contemporary environmental problems: the role of status competition in generating what we consume, and what we throw away, to the detriment of the planet. Across time and space, humans have pursued social status in many different ways - through ritual purity, singing or dancing, child-bearing, bodily deformation, even headhunting. In many of the world's most consumptive societies, however, consumption has become closely tied to how individuals build and communicate status. Given this tight link, people will be reluctant to reduce consumption levels – and environmental impact -- and forego their ability to communicate or improve their social standing. Drawing on cross-cultural and archaeological evidence, this book asks how a stronger understanding of the links between status and consumption across time, space, and culture might bend the curve towards a more sustainable future.
This chapter explores the paradoxical logics embedded in the Swedish policymaking elites’ rationale for exporting advanced conventional weapons to the so-called developing world. Using the South Africa JAS-39 Gripen fighter jet deal as a case study, the chapter demonstrates how the policymaking elite consciously pursues a dual strategy regarding the production and circulation of weapons – one that is driven both by the Swedish internationalist tradition of “doing good” and “being good” in the world, but also for instrumental purposes. Overall, the investigation illustrates how such processes have become embedded societal symbols of Swedish identity in the post-Cold War era – a phenomenon that serves to conflate the operations of a militarized state with the perceived ideals of Swedish mediation, honest brokership, and overall as a significant contributor to frameworks of promoting ethical and peaceful methods on a global stage. These paradoxes, it is argued, raise important questions about so-called “Swedish exceptionalism.”
How did democracy promotion become a key goal of Sweden’s official development assistance (ODA)? Existing research has regarded comparatively high levels of ODA as a key indicator of Sweden’s foreign policy exceptionalism, supposedly rooted in domestic values of solidarity, democracy, and equality. However, such culturalist accounts of foreign policy exceptionalisms tend to mystify rather than clarify the influence of values. In this chapter, I seek to provide a different account of how values shape foreign policy, using the goal of democracy promotion through ODA as an illustrative case. While policy documents occasionally refer to unique Swedish experiences of democracy, I argue that the beliefs governing Swedish democracy promotion efforts rather result from contentious political processes and have been partly shaped by evolving international conjectures. Empirically, the paper analyzes how Swedish policymakers have framed the aims and strategies of democracy promotion in ODA from the 1960s to the 2010s.
An increasingly popular alternative to traditional aid is a “global public goods” (GPG) approach to reducing poverty and countering other global challenges. Having explained the origins and meaning of the concept, which is based on a rationale derived from welfare economics, I present two specific examples: REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and a global initiative for producing a vaccine against Covid-19. I briefly summarize debates about the merits of a GPG approach and how Scandinavian countries are increasingly adopting it, even though this may result in their level of aid falling, since GPG funding may not count. I conclude that if, as seems likely, many countries are slow to accept the shared responsibility that a GPG approach implies, then the reputation, and perhaps even identity, of the Scandinavian people may nevertheless be enhanced if they establish a position – as they have so far often done – among those in the vanguard.
This chapter goes back in history to explore the roots of Norway and Sweden’s postulated peace traditions and some key features of the two states’ mediation efforts during and after the Cold War. With particular attention paid to Norway’s attempt to take national ownership of the peace nation narrative in the 1990s and the 2000s, the chapter discusses why Sweden and Norway both found peacemaking an attractive tool for national image building, and demonstrates how the quest for a peace nation identity sparked competition and friction between the two states. The chapter uses examples from Guatemala, the Middle East and Sri Lanka to illustrate the possibilities and limitations of Nordic mediation, and argues that although the mediation successes have been relatively few, the peace nation narrative is hard to challenge since its overarching telos is to be the good, spread the good, and fulfill the good.
Part IV examines in greater detail a central concept in the preceding chapters: conditionality. Its ubiquity throughout the previous sections raises the question whether it might suffice to explain representation. The question is first approached by examining how conditionality operated in cases where ruler power was weak. Under such conditions, it led to "second-best constitutionalism," a pattern of governance emerging where rulers lacked power over the most powerful and developed conditional relations with groups they endowed with counterbalancing resources. This explains representative governance in cases where the regime was not able to control all social groups: representation was focused on the groups with conditional relations with the crown. This helps explain the cases of Hungary and Poland, which are treated here at greater length, as well as Sweden, Denmark, and the Holy Roman Empire, which are treated more briefly.
Whole-of-government (WOG) approaches have emerged as a blueprint for contemporary peace and state-building operations. Countries contributing civilian and military personnel to multinational interventions are persistently urged to improve coherence and enhance coordination between the ministries that form part of the national contingent. Despite a heated debate about what WOG should look like and how to achieve it, the causal mechanisms of WOG variance remains under-theorised. Based on 47 in-depth, semi-structured interviews, this study compares Swedish and German WOG approaches in the context of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). I argue that coalition bargaining drove the fluctuation in the Swedish and German WOG models. Strategic culture was an antecedent condition. In both cases, COIN and the war on terror clashed with foundational elements of the Swedish and German strategic cultures, paving the way for a non-debate on WOG on the political arena. Finally, bureaucratic politics was an intervening condition that obstructed or enabled coherence, depending on the ambition of the incumbent coalition government to progress WOG. Overall, the results suggest that coalitions face limitations in implementing a WOG framework when the nature of the military engagement is highly disputed in national parliaments.
The TPNW was welcomed at the UN General Assembly, under the participation of a wide range of humanitarian groups and civil society organizations, supported by a groundswell of nations around the world. The Treaty firmly implants new law into the international legal landscape for states who wish to ratify it, sowing the seeds of potentially new normative behavior within the global community more generally. Indeed, the TPNW purports to strive for universality, raising significant questions regarding its ambitions in achieving legal unity within the wider international legal order. The dedication to the spirit of the Treaty cannot be ignored, nor can the optimism to ban nuclear weapons.
Older people's ability to thrive independently of their adult children is an important feature of a universalistic welfare system. However, population ageing puts this notion under stress. In separate multinomial logistic regression models for older men and women, we examined whether adult children's gender, number and proximity were associated with older parents’ relocations into residential care facilities, and whether the effects of these children's characteristics on older parents’ institutionalisation vary by parents’ severe health problems, operationalised as closeness to death – specifically, dying within the two-year observation period. Analyses were based on the Swedish register data between 2014 and 2016 (N = 696,007 person-years). Older parents with at least one co-resident child were less likely to move or become institutionalised than those without a co-resident child. We did not find a relationship between older adults’ institutionalisation and the closest child's gender. The negative effect of having a non-resident child living nearby on the likelihood of becoming institutionalised was more pronounced for mothers than fathers. Having a child nearby decreased the likelihood of moving to an institution more for mothers who had severe health problems than for those in better health. We found no evidence of a relationship between number of children and likelihood of institutionalisation.
Since 2015, the incidence of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) caused by serogroup W (MenW) has increased in Sweden, due to the introduction of the 2013 strain belonging to clonal complex 11. The aim of this study was to describe the clinical presentation of MenW infections, in particular the 2013 strain, including genetic associations. Medical records of confirmed MenW IMD cases in Sweden during the years 1995–2019 (n = 113) were retrospectively reviewed and the clinical data analysed according to strain. Of all MenW patients, bacteraemia without the focus of infection was seen in 44%, bacteraemic pneumonia in 26%, meningitis in 13% and epiglottitis in 8%, gastrointestinal symptoms in 48% and 4% presented with petechiae. Phylogenetic analysis was used for possible links between genetic relationship and clinical picture. The 2013 strain infections, particularly in one cluster, were associated with more severe disease compared with other MenW infections. The patients with 2013 strain infections (n = 68) were older (52 years vs. 25 years for other strains), presented more often with diarrhoea as an atypical presentation (P = 0.045) and were more frequently admitted for intensive care (P = 0.032). There is a risk that the atypical clinical presentation of MenW infections, with predominantly gastrointestinal or respiratory symptoms rather than neck stiffness or petechiae, may lead to delay in life-saving treatment.
In reforming pension systems to assure sustainability and equity, conventional practice has called for a “three pillars” approach advocated in the 1990s. This chapter calls for significant revision in that approach. Three countries’ major pension surgeries in three countries – Chile, Singapore, and Sweden –are subjected to a post-operative appraisal. The main verdict is that a country can achieve sustainability plus insurance without the problematic second pillar built on payroll deductions in the formal workplace. The first and third pillars suffice, given political consensus. Chile’s famous pension reform has been emulated but misunderstood, for reasons detailed here. Singapore’s mandatory payroll-taxing system had succeeded in accelerating economic growth, but at the expense of reasonable returns to pensioners. Sweden’s notional defined contribution plan despite its name, is a sensible first-pillar approach, indexing pensions to demographic and economic movements.
This paper examines the relationship between the coming of the railroads, the expansion of primary education, and the introduction of national school curricula. Using fine-grained data on local education outcomes in Sweden in the nineteenth century, the paper tests the idea that the development of the railroad network enabled national school inspectors to monitor remote schools more effectively. In localities to which school inspectors could travel by rail, a larger share of children attended permanent public schools and took classes in nation-building subjects such as geography and history. By contrast, the parochial interests of local and religious authorities continued to dominate in remote areas school inspectors could not reach by train. The paper argues for a causal interpretation of these findings, which are robust for the share of children in permanent schools and suggestive for the content of the curriculum. The paper therefore concludes that the railroad, the defining innovation of the First Industrial Revolution, mattered directly for the state's ability to implement public policies.
Focusing on Swedish home care for older people, this article explores the discursive (re)production of home care as an institution. Equality and universal service provision have been described as defining features of the Nordic care regime. At the same time, Nordic research has highlighted a shift in social care policy, from a focus on universalism and egalitarian ideals towards a focus on freedom of choice, diversity and individualised services. This article takes as a starting point that home care for older people is formed by different and potentially conflicting ideas. We understand home care as a contested formation and define institutional change in terms of ongoing discursive struggles. The analysis draws on qualitative semi-structured interviews with key informants, including politicians, local authority officials and representatives of interest organisations. Informants were engaged in policy making, implementation or advocacy related to care for older people. We examine the meanings attached to home care for older people and the analysis reveals three different discourses – on choice, needs and equality. By comparing and contrasting discourses, we reveal silences, conflicts and tensions, and highlight the politics involved in (re)creating home care as an institution.
This article examines the early development of South Korean intercountry adoption to Sweden. It focuses particularly on two disruptions in the movement of children between the two nations, drawing on archival sources in Sweden, South Korea, and Denmark. The article demonstrates that South Korean–Swedish adoption was deeply bound up in the shifting Cold War relations within and between the Korean peninsula and Scandinavia in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Further, state actions and strategies during this time reveal that both governments actively utilized their Cold War foreign policy and positionality to shape adoption to meet their respective national interests. This study extends US-centered adoption scholarship by revealing broader implications of Cold War geopolitics in cross-border adoptions to Scandinavia and, more importantly, significant ways in which intercountry adoption challenged, altered, and constituted the Cold War relations and nation-building projects of both sending and receiving states.
This article examines the aftermath of the 1897 Riksbank Act in Swedish banking. The act placed banks with unlimited liability and those with limited liability on equal footing, removing the note-issuing privileges of the former. We consider whether changes in risk preferences occurred subsequent to the act, or whether extended liability was a sufficient deterrent. We conclude that when legal differences were removed, lower transaction costs for unlimited liability banks (ULBs) spurred aggressive competition, reflected in narrower interest spreads relative to limited liability banks (LLBs). ULBs also took on greater leverage and held less liquidity, which supports the Coasean interpretation that the shareholder liability regime mattered little. After 1897, ULB shareholders continued to receive higher dividends, enjoyed substantially superior returns on equity, and maintained an array of corporate governance controls to shield themselves against their additional risk.
This article analyses the inherent conflict between public and private interest from a long time-perspective, using the example of Sweden from 1620 to 2000. The main argument is that there have been two equally decisive historical shifts in the political discourse on how to organize public services in the past: First, a shift from an early modern patriarchal discourse to a more expansive articulation of publicness during the nineteenth century. Second, a shift toward privatization and deregulation in the late twentieth century. Both these shifts must be considered to fully explain the changing forms of public organization up to the present day. Theoretically, the concept of “publicness” is used to explain the political discourses on the organization of public services. Drawing on three discursive chains, the argument is that the political development was affected by the politicians’ conception of the political community, the form of organization, and by perceptions of values such as equal access and modernity. Our results demonstrate how and why political arguments for or against private service providers have motivated profound changes in the way public services are perceived of and organized.