Online voting is a popular suggestion among the Swedes, according to a poll done by the SOM Institute. Six of ten believe it would be a great thing to pick a political party via the Internet.
“I’m personally careful but positive to online voting,” says Minister of Democracy Birgitta Ohlsson. A year and a half ago, the government asked the SOM Institute at Göteborg University to study how the Swedish people view different democracy issues. The result shows a great support for Internet voting; all of 62% think it’s a great suggestion, only 17% believe it’s bad. And it’s not the very young who are mostly positive, but people in the 30-49 age bracket. Ohlsson says she is surprised: “In Norway there’s quite a big enthusiasm for online voting. But I have several caveats concerning safety and technology. Modern technology can strengthen democracy, but it can also put up obstacles for safety.” The poll also shows that Swedes are positive in limiting the conditions of the politicians by imposing a limit for the number of political assignments that an elected politician can have at the same time. Having several assignments at the same time is getting more and more common among politicians, as the political parties are getting smaller. According to a study from Statistics Sweden, the number of local politicians with three or more assignments has increased from 10% in 1999 to 15% in 2011.
“That’s something the political parties must change,” says Birgitta Ohlsson. “We see that it’s an enormous concentration of power, a few individuals with a lot of power, and that’s something the parties themselves ought to see.” The study shows a great support among the Swedish people for putting a limit on how many terms a member of Parliament can remain. Those who have remained the longest today, have been member since 1982, that’s 31 years. “I’m skeptical to such a limit,” says Ohlsson. “The parties may of course, like the Green Party, choose to have their own regulations. But this issue is for the voters to want to change. Now the personal election will have more of an impact when the threshold is lowed in the parliamentary elections. I believe that in the long term we ought to abolish this threshold altogether, so that people themselves may choose who they want to represent them.” The SOM study shows that most Swedes are negative to the proposal for lowering the voting age and to lowering the 4% threshold to the parliamentary election. Folkpartiet (the Liberal People’s Party) has suggested separate election days for municipal and parliamentary elections, but this has not had a great support. “I’m getting more and more skeptical to that. It costs more than it’s worth, and it shows a low turnout in the local elections in both Norway and Denmark,” says Ohlsson.
SOM-Institutet, Samhälle-Opinion-Media