Security Organisation Releases Report Slamming Swedish Electoral System

Voters takes ballots at a polling station before voting in the general elections on September 9, 2018 in Tomelilla, Sweden. (Photo by Johan NILSSON / TT NEWS AGENCY / AFP) / Sweden OUT (Photo credit should read JOHAN NILSSON/AFP/Getty Images)

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has criticised Sweden’s electoral system noting voter privacy concerns, missing ballots, and the way in which unions fund the Social Democrats.

The report, released on Wednesday, examines concerns raised following the Swedish national election in September by OSCE elections observers who raised concerns over “undemocratic” aspects of the Swedish electoral system.

Danish delegate Michael Aastrup Jensen, who had previously monitored elections in Eastern Europe, went as far as commenting, “In all the many election observations I’ve been on, I have not seen anything that comes close to how undemocratic the Swedish voting system is.”

The OSCE report said, “In practice, ballots are placed on a table or a stand, often in plain view of voters and staff present in the polling station, which at times might diminish the secrecy of the vote.”

The organisation recommended that “consideration should be given to further measures to ensure the secrecy of the vote,” and also noted that in some areas ballots had been reported missing in polling stations, including ones belonging to the populist Sweden Democrats.”

The connection between the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO) and the Social Democrats was also scrutinised with the OSCE report authors noting criticism of “the close link between the Social Democratic Party and the LO, reasoning that LO members’ political affinities are very diverse and hence its financial support should be diversified.”

“Notwithstanding the historical linkages of the Social Democratic Party and the LO, unregulated participation of third parties in electoral campaigns can compromise political finance transparency,” they added.

A total of six recommendations were made in the report, including a call for explicit legislation to allow OSCE observers in Swedish elections.

Despite the election occurring over two months ago, Sweden is still without a government as no parties have managed to form a working majority coalition with the looming possibility of a new snap election on the horizon.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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