SHARE
COPY LINK

2022 SWEDISH ELECTION

Which political party in Sweden has the best English website?

It’s election year in Sweden, and campaigning is in full swing. But which political parties are reaching out to voters who don’t speak Swedish? Shandana Mufti dug through the websites of the main political parties to see which are doing the best job courting English-speaking voters.

Which political party in Sweden has the best English website?
A collage made from elements of the English language websites of the Social Democrats, Moderates, Sweden Democrats, Christian Democrats, Liberal Party and Green Party. Source: Party websites.

One party made it easy to Google Translate the entire website into a language of your choice, another neglected to make any information available in a language other than Swedish. Other websites were impossible for me to find using the party’s English name.

I found that most of the parties provided basic information about the party’s platform and proposed policies in English, although the care put into this varied: some pages didn’t appear recently updated, others linked to further reading entirely in Swedish.

Two parties reached out to Swedish learners, with basic Swedish as an additional language option. But who will have your vote come September?

Swedish Green Party

While the Green Party’s website is mostly in Swedish, it makes information available in an additional 16 languages including Arabic, French, and Turkish. You can find the “other languages” section here.

People looking for English-language information can read through a brochure that outlines the party’s political ideology and its vision for Sweden. The brochure, titled “Green Ideology – Solidarity in Action”, dates back to the 2018 election, and provides an overview of the values that govern the party and its policies, on topics ranging from the relationship between human beings and their environment, to how investments in public healthcare should be managed.

No information about Green Party leader Märta Stenevi is available in the brochure, and no candidates standing for election are named. Swedish speakers can access much more information than English speakers, including region-specific information on how the party is active across Sweden, and information on how to get involved with the party.

The English offering largely includes information published ahead of the 2018 election, with at least one link leading to a web page that no longer exists.

Centre Party

The Centre Party’s website is published in Swedish – but there is a widget on the homepage which allows you to choose your preferred language from a long list of those supported by Google Translate.

So while the information is written and published in Swedish, the Centre Party has made it easy to access the entirety of its published content in English, or whichever language you prefer (as long as Google Translate supports it!). This means even the most recently published material is accessible to non-Swedish speaking voters, including a biography of party leader Annie Lööf, and its regularly published news items, covering the party’s policies on topics ranging from maintaining biodiversity to calls for a “vibrant equestrian industry”.

There are a few drawbacks to the reliance on Google Translate’s services, however. First, there is a slight lag when clicking through to a new page and waiting for the translated version. Videos obviously aren’t automatically dubbed in a language of the viewer’s choosing – like a video overview of the Centre Party’s policies published on the “Centre Party in Three Minutes” page.

Finally, Google Translate isn’t perfect.  A translated version of one page will tell you that the party believes in putting “a high price tag on dirt”, and not on pollution, as Swedish readers would know from reading the original text.

Social Democrats

Like the Green Party, the Social Democrats have a page linking to limited information about the party for non-Swedish speakers. Here, the twelve languages include Dari, Somali, and easy-to-read Swedish (a great way to test if those SFI classes/Duolingo lessons are paying off).

The page was updated in July 2022 and the same information is available in each language: a two-page document including a message from party leader Magdalena Andersson, and a page highlighting three policy highlights. These highlights deal with the party’s approach to combatting crime and segregation, rehauling the welfare system, and growing green industries.

In addition, at the bottom of the Other Languages page, there is a link to the English language pages on the Election Authority’s website, detailing how exactly the voting process works, and how to vote in this year’s national, municipal, and county elections.

Christian Democrat Party

This one’s a tough site to navigate. Even landing on the homepage took time, because Googling Christian Democrats does not provide an immediate link to their website. To get that, you need to switch your search term to the party’s Swedish name, Kristdemokraterna, after which their website is the first search result.

So not a great start. On the homepage, there are no links to content in another language. Eventually, I gave up on looking, and typed “English” into the search bar – success! The “The Christian Democrats In Other Languages” page is tucked away under the Vår Politik (“our policies”) menu. Find it here

Information is available in 13 languages, and like the Social Democrats’ content, this information is in the form of a two-page document that highlights the party’s leader, Ebba Busch (although it is at least two years old, as it calls her by her former married name, Ebba Busch Thor, which she hasn’t used since 2020), and the party’s most important policies, including employing more police officers, ending quotas on parental leave, and building more homes for the elderly.

There’s also some pushback against common “preconceptions” of the party: they’re not more pious than other Swedish parties, but have “never tried to hide the fact that our policies are based on a stable foundation that stands firm over time, with Judeo-Christian values as the cornerstone.”

Moderate Party

Like several other parties on this list, the Moderates keep all their content in other languages on their own separate page. This one is easy to find, on a drop-down menu that is easily found on the homepage. English is among the 13 languages in which this information is available – others include Turkish, Finnish, and Polish.

Instead of linking to an uploaded document, clicking on one of the 13 languages will take you to a separate page published on the website, titled “How we will put Sweden in order”. The text published here paints a bleak picture of Sweden: from gang violence to reliance on fossil fuels, to inadequate care for cancer patients. 

The Sweden the Moderates present is one that needs to be put in order. There is no information about the party leader, Ulf Kristersson, or any other politicians available in English. In a four-point list at the bottom of the page, the party outlines its proposals for tackling Sweden’s problems. After each point is a “read more” link – and each of these links leads to pages published exclusively in Swedish, leaving non-Swedish speakers wondering what the solutions to these problems might be.

Left Party

Like the Christian Democrats, the Left Party’s website is difficult to find on Google without resorting to searching for it using the party’s Swedish name, Vänsterpartiet. And it gets worse. Nothing on their website, it seems, is available in English. Nothing on the drop-down menu suggests content in other languages; searching English and Engelska turned up nothing. In desperation, I looked up “Vänsterpartiet Engelska” on Google – and found a page put up by the party’s Borlänge chapter, last updated in 2014, that provided a brief overview of the party in English. For further reading, the page recommends the party’s Wikipedia page. I learned on Wikipedia that the party’s leader is Nooshi Dadgostar. I didn’t read on.

Liberals

Here’s another party that’s most easily Googled using its Swedish name, Liberalerna. Their “Other languages” page is also difficult to find. I Googled “Liberalerna English” before landing on it, but it is available in an impressive 23 languages. This includes, like the Social Democrats, an easy-to-read Swedish version of the party’s platform. Like on the Moderates’ website, clicking on any of the languages will take you to a separate page on the website. The English translation is far from perfect, with some clunky constructions and some elementary grammatical errors. 

On this page, the party’s most important policies – freedom, education, and integration – are highlighted, along with a very short biography of party leader Johan Pehrson. Among the integration policies highlighted on the page is a “Focus on the Swedish language”. The easy-to-read Swedish page makes sense then – it’s a chance reach out to readers who are working on their language skills, but aren’t fluent in Swedish just yet.

Sweden Democrats

In what was a first in my research, Googling “Sweden Democrats” brought me directly to a page published in English. From the homepage too, this page is easy to find, under a header titled “English”. The page is in-depth, although the translation is far from perfect.

“We have been eyed thoroughly and we have been in the wrong sometimes, not least in the early years,” it reads. “But we have matured, and we have learned from our experience.”

It also gives an overview of the party’s position on where the country stands, a section on what the party has done since the 2018 election, and finally, what the party wants – its platform for the future. Like the Moderates, the Swedish Democrats paint a dark picture of Sweden – one they say that their party foresaw, and one that they can set straight.

Information about the party leader, Jimmie Åkesson, is not available on the English page; nor is information about the party’s candidates.

So who had the best website for English speakers?

Overall, the Social Democrats’ website had the best website for English speakers. The Sweden Democrats were also in the running, with their comprehensive overview page. So was the Centre Party’s approach of making it possible to translate the entire website with a Google Translate widget – an innovative approach, but the technology is still in need of fine-tuning. 

The Social Democrats’ website is easy to navigate. The information they provide is up-to-date, and is consistent across the various language offerings. I found the easy-to-read Swedish option to be a nice touch. What really set this website apart, however, was that they included a link to the election authority’s page on how Swedish elections and the voting process work. Knowing who to vote for is only one half of the puzzle – knowing exactly how and where to vote is also crucial. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

SWEDEN ELECTS

Sweden Elects: How powerful are the Sweden Democrats now?

The Local's editor Emma Löfgren explains how Sweden's parliamentary committees work – and the role the Sweden Democrats will play in them.

Sweden Elects: How powerful are the Sweden Democrats now?

Hej,

The speaker of parliament has given Ulf Kristersson, leader of the conservative Moderates and the likely next prime minister of Sweden, October 12th as a deadline to conclude his government negotiations.

If Kristersson comes up with a viable proposal for a ruling coalition, the speaker will put that proposal to parliament within four days. Chances are Sweden will have its new right-wing government by mid-October.

What will that government look like? Most likely, it will consist of at least the Moderates and the Christian Democrats. Rumours have it Kristersson is hoping to bring the Liberals into the governmental fold, and it is unlikely that the far-right Sweden Democrats will be part of the government.

But anyone who thinks the latter means they will be left on the sidelines is mistaken. They will have demanded significant concessions in order to support Kristersson’s government (and especially to make way for the Liberals) from parliament, and judging from recent news, they got them.

In a joint press release last week, the right wing – the Moderates, Christian Democrats, Liberals and Sweden Democrats – said they had reached a deal on how to share responsibility for their parliamentary committees.

There are 15 committees in the Swedish parliament, seats on which are held by members of parliament, with larger parties getting more seats as well as more high-ranking roles such as chair and deputy chair.

The right wing is after this election entitled to 16 chair and deputy chair roles, and the Sweden Democrats will get half of those, the parties agreed. The key thing that many political pundits were keeping an eye on was which committees, as that tells us a lot about how far they got in their negotiations with the other right-wing parties. The answer: far.

The Sweden Democrats will get to chair the Justice, Foreign Affairs, Labour Market, and Industry and Trade Committees – all heavyweight committees. 

Their most high-profile appointment is Richard Jomshof, one of the most senior Sweden Democrats who in the run-up to the election gave an anti-Islam speech (not the first time). He will chair the Justice Committee.

The Moderates will chair the Finance and Social Insurance Committees (plus the EU Committee), the Christian Democrats will chair the Health and Welfare Committee, and the Liberals will chair the Education Committee.

On the other side, the left-wing parties will get to chair the Defence, Taxation, Constitution, Civil Affairs, Transport and Communications, Environment and Agriculture, and Cultural Affairs Committees.

So what exactly do the parliamentary committees do, and how much influence will the Sweden Democrats now have over legislation?

The votes of every member of the committees count equally (there are at least 15 members on every committee, representing the various parties from left to right), and the chair gets the final vote if there’s a tie. He or she also has influence over the committee’s agenda and over how meetings are directed, with the position also bringing prestige.

All government bills and proposals by members of parliament first go through one of the committees before they can be put to the main chamber for a vote. The committee adopts a position on the proposal and although the final decision rests with the 349 members of the main chamber, they usually vote for the committee’s position since the make-up of their members represent the parties in parliament.

Although chair positions give them a procedural advantage, the Sweden Democrats won’t have unlimited power over their committees, since as I said, the other parties have seats too and their votes count equally.

The main benefit for the Sweden Democrats is rather the soft power it gives them. The chair is the face of the parliamentary committee, and these senior roles will force the other parties to take them seriously.

Another aspect to bear in mind is that they’ll have enough seats on each committee that they will have a key kingmaker role where they can side either with the government or the opposition – giving them fairly significant negotiating power when it comes to future legislation.

In other news, the Swedish parliament last week re-elected the popular Andreas Norlén as speaker, it’s been taking much longer than usual to get a work permit (here’s why) and foreigners are calling for the Migration Agency to issue special visas to allow those affected by renewal delays to leave Sweden and return, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline has stopped leaking gas, and households in Sweden are starting to feel the economic squeeze.

In the latest episode of our Sweden in Focus podcast, host Paul O’Mahony is joined by Handelsbanken chief economist Johan Löf, as well as The Local’s Becky Waterton, Richard Orange and James Savage.

Many thanks to everyone who’s got in touch lately with your thoughts and feedback about Sweden Elects. I’m happy it’s useful to you. If you have any questions about Swedish politics, you’re always welcome to get in touch.

Best wishes,

Emma

Sweden Elects is a weekly column by Editor Emma Löfgren looking at the big talking points and issues in the Swedish election race. Members of The Local Sweden can sign up to receive the column as a newsletter in their email inbox each week. Just click on this “newsletters” option or visit the menu bar.

SHOW COMMENTS