Monday, September 11, 2006

The Swedish Election (by Annika)

Annika's class (first grade) has been discussing the upcoming Swedish election. Though she hardly understands what a democracy is, not to mention representative government, she was quite intrigued by the political symbols and campaign information.

In Sweden, each party builds a little house (valstuga) outside each of the major shopping centers so that anyone who is interested can come in and talk. Mörby Centrum looks like a little playground with houses for 4 of the 8 major parites. I was having trouble defining the differences between the parties, so we made the trek to Mörby to see if the volunteers in the cottages could do any better. Here is her view:

"The Vs" or Vänsterpartiet, the far left. According to one of Annika's friends, if the Vs win the election, we will all have to move out to our summer houses and live in the country. Since we don't personally possess a summer house, this would leave us rather homeless, so they don't get Annika's vote. They didn't actually have a house we could visit - I guess our neighborhood is not their highest potential area for votes.

"The Ms" or Moderaterna, as far right of left that you can get in Sweden. Everyone got a box of candy, which was a big hit with Benjamin and Christopher until they tasted it, and then we all agreed, along with the people in the cottage, that it was "adult" candy. They also won extra points with the boys because the volunteer (female) who spoke with us had a super cool Harley that Benjamin got to sit on. The volunteer's picture was also in one of the brochures, as was a picture of our neighbor, so they scored points with Annika, though not enough to put them over...

"The Rose" or the Social Democrats. They want to help people, so they are good. They also gave us a real red rose and a button that said "Alla ska med" (Everyone should belong). Annika was fairly predisposed to like the Rose party, just by virtue of the symbol. They also had nice "playing cards" with pictures of all the important people in the party (though she couldn't recognize Göran Persson) that were good for school. High points.

The Folkpartiet had the coolest symbol (the blue thing), though we really couldn't figure out what it was. They tried to differentiate themselves to Annika on education - "We want grades and exit exams" - grades which are meaningless to a 7-year-old who has no idea what they are, and exams, which sound like fun to her - some points, but nothing special to take back - no buttons, no pictures...

The Miljöpartiet and the Kristdemokraterna did not do well in our investigation, the greens because they didn't have any information Annika could take back to school, and the Christian Democrats because their cottage was closed.

To sum up, after recovering from her inital disappointment that 7-year-olds are not allowed to vote, nor are their parents allowed to vote for them, Annika still investigated the project thoroughly. In the end, she said, "You know, mama, maybe it's good that kids can't vote. I might vote when I'm 18... but maybe I'll wait until I'm 40, like you."

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