Sweden Most Effective at Governing & Law? I Think Not!

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Once again, it’s that time of year when international bodies release data about the #1 country for gender equality or the cleanest place to live or the best place for dogs.

Now, the World Justice Project’s 2010 Rule of Law Index ranks Sweden as number 1 in five of the nine categories. These are: government accountability, absence of corruption, clear and stable laws, open government, and regulatory enforcement.

I am well aware that Sweden is one of the best countries to live. It is the land of Volvo, Ikea and Swedish waffles. But while I have been happiest here, I today, find certain aspects of Swedish life hard to digest.

  • Sweden is safe. No, violent crimes, rape, and petty theft are rising fastest in Sweden.
  • Regulatory enforcement – ie. the Swedish government works. Oh the Swedish government works so well that the average murder sentence is 7 years. If you are lucky, you can train to be a doctor while in prison (no Swedish papers covered this), get only one year for murdering a friend, or never be arrested for beating an innocent person with a gun. That’s right folks, rule of law works!
  • Government accountability – Sweden is friendly to immigrants and it’s easy to assimilate. Well, Sveriges Demokraterna has unearthed the skeletons from the Swedish cupboards.
  • Absence of CorruptionRenting an apartment is corrupt free. Because the government turns its eye away from the rental market system it keeps its hands clean. That’s right, text message bidding and vying for black market secondhand rental contracts is corrupt free.
    Oh, did I mention a real estate agent represents BOTH the seller and the buyer?? And the Swedish government was responsible for billions in renovation and building projects during the 1960-1980s? We all know that the real estate market and construction are the “cleanest” industries.
  • Clear and stable laws – Swedes have tough driver’s license exam therefore “they are better drivers.” The Swedish country aside, Stockholm has some of the worst drivers I have ever seen in a developed economy. Running red lights, making illegal turns, refusing to yield to pedestrians, overtaking police cars are some reasons why Stockholm drivers are rarely pulled over by traffic cops. Wait?! Where the hell are the traffic cops??
  • Open government – Systembolaget protects you from alcohol. The government does not want you drinking. The taxman also wants to make more money. Solution: sell evil alcohol with 200% tax rate and everyone wins! Create a governing board structure that is so complex that no one knows who runs this entity. As a good samaritan, when drinking is most prevalent (weekends, Midsommer, Christmas), pass out flyers and advertise on TV that drinking too much is bad.

I still brag that Sweden is a wonderful place to live; with caveats. My glass shattered back in January when my husband was beaten. That warm, fuzzy feeling of Swedish life disappeared. Justice and law failed us when we most desperately needed closure.

Sweden is not perfect, and my hope is that we strive for a society that becomes safer, more open, and easier to live in; not the other way around.

Sapphire Svanström
Sapphire is an Indian American living in Stockholm, Sweden. When not
ranting about Swedish bedsheets or System Bolaget, she loves
kanelbulle and swedish waffles. She discusses the highs and
lows of living abroad in the arctic north on her blog Lost in Stockholm and beyond.

She has shot in countries from Iceland to the Phillipines and her photos have been featured in museums in Los Angeles and on the front page of Sweden's largest national newspapers.
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