Monday, September 16, 2002

I voted yesterday for the social democrats.

It's funny how powerful one feels voting. Powerful and responsible. Powerful and responsible and in my case, worried that I could be voting for some idiot, considering that I was not familiar with a single name on the ballots that I cast. My only excuse for not knowing is that Swedes are kind of peculiar about politics. It's not considered a terribly polite topic of conversation, I'm told, and supposedly there are many a husband and wife who have never revealed to one another how each voted. This political closed-mouthedness is not characteristic of my friends, who have freely told me who they've voted for. Which doesn't mean that I really understand the politics here. All I know is that the social democrats have been in power - aside from the public's one-term flirtation with the Moderaterna - since the Great Depression, and that isn't a good thing. And it feels a bit like following the herd to vote for the social democrats, and that isn't a good thing. And the whole political spectrum is yards to the left of U.S. politics, which makes it hard to figure out what exactly everyone stands for, and that isn't a good thing either, for me.

It's just plain hard for us poor Americans, with only two parties to choose from, to understand parliamentary politics and coalition governments and a system with seven different political parties.

Yet, as far as I can figure, the social democrats - not the Left Party (former communists) and not the Green Party, and definitely not the Christian Democrats, or the Center Party or the People's Party or, of course, the Moderates - most closely represent the things I believe in, and the way I think things should be run. I don't believe in privitization, I believe in a social welfare state, and most of all I think the social democrats, for all their faults, have built up quite a society with the backing of the Swedish population.

And that's as much politics as I'm able to manage, after voting for the first time in this country that I have adopted. Or more rightly, has adopted me.

The Swedish word for the day is rött. It means red.

- by Francis S.

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