Sweden - new popular demands for democratic arenas but less belief in political influence

12 Mar 2024

Sweden usually ranks high in various democracy rankings, with almost all Swedes (95 percent) considering democracy important. However, only under half of citizens (45 percent) believe they can influence societal development, as shown in a new survey conducted by Novus survey company on behalf of the democracy arena "Frihamnsdagarna."

The survey, interviewing over 1,000 people online, reveals that while 85 percent of Swedes believe they have a personal responsibility for societal change, 41 percent state they don't engage in any way for change. Additionally, more than a third of Swedes (37 percent) fear negative consequences such as hate and threats if they express their opinions about society.

"Today, we have fewer democracies than in the past 35 years. The trend is heading in the wrong direction, and we all must stand up for our democracy. It's problematic that so many Swedes feel they don't have the opportunity to influence or feel insecure expressing their opinions," says David Bjoerneloo, CEO and co-founder of Frihamnsdagarna.

Most Swedes desire more arenas for democratic conversations, with six out of ten believing they are needed to discuss societal issues. The survey shows that Swedes' perception is complex with the following examples:

  • Healthcare (66%), education (56%), and crime (51%) are the three most important societal issues, with democracy and rights ranking sixth (32%).

  • More women than men prioritize healthcare, the environment, and climate, while more men than women emphasize immigration, integration, and energy.

  • Six out of ten believe there is a need for democratic arenas to discuss societal issues.

  • Six of ten engage in at least one way to create societal change. The largest proportion (41%) said they engage by not purchasing certain goods.

  • Four out of ten do not engage in creating change in society, and 57% of these would not want to start either.

  • Most (85%) believe they are responsible for steering society towards the desired changes.

  • 26% believe society will develop in a way they desire, but 36% believe that society will not develop in a way they desire.

  • More than a third of Swedes (37%) fear negative consequences such as hate and threats if they express their opinions about society.

  • One in three (34%) feel insecure about expressing their opinions on social media, while one in five (22%) feel secure doing so.

  • Seven out of ten are interested in listening to a party leader speak in a place near their homes.

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