In a normal, real representational democracy that allows for a plurality of thought and dissent, the bureaucracy mentioned, the unofficial branch of government that operates and legislates outside the direct accountability of the people, would be an outrage. The same is happening in the US government.

But in Sweden, there is no real democracy (and in Finland the problem is real but to a lesser extent) the rule by consensus gang of political parties have their hegemony sealed in concrete, there is no way for people to exact change outside of forming a new party and running the gauntlet of ridicule, disparagement and at times, violent attack if their party platform differs in too much of an extent from what the political consensus dictates.

‘Sweden is ruled by unelected policy plotters’


'Sweden is ruled by unelected policy plotters'

The Swedish government and parliament buildings. Photo: Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se

Sweden has long been seen as the epitome of a healthy democracy. But in this week’s debate article, three researchers argue that an increase in unelected behind-the-scenes operators is threatening accountability in the Swedish political sphere.

Who has the power over Swedish politics and who decides how to shape tomorrow’s politics? The answer to these questions has long been a given, both in the public debate and in the text books used in schools and universities. Namely, our elected politicians, representatives of various social movements as well as big names in industry and large trade unions. Sweden has been considered an open and well-functioning democracy and we have known who these people are and have been able to hold them accountable for their actions and decisions. Citizens interested in influencing political decisions have had good opportunities to get involved in, for example, political parties, various movements or in the extensive spread of other voluntary associations. The political parties in particular have presented themselves as grassroots’ and members’ organizations.

This rosy picture of Swedish democracy has, however, been increasingly questioned. In particular, political parties and the traditional social movements’ have faced criticism for how they operate. The difficulty to engage new members has been highlighted and many opinion polls have indicated weak confidence in the political parties.


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