Democracy, governance & law:

Democracy, governance & law

This page provides articles on both the well-established, democratic traditions that the Nordic countries are famous for, such as the welfare state and the Nordic model. It also includes content about the challenges to the social democratic order, such as digitalisation and neoliberalism. Articles also include those that are tagged as being to do with minorities, public policy and education. New articles are added on a regular basis.


The official flag of Åland since the 1950s. Åland is semi-automonous in that it has its own legislature, but it is a part of Finland despite over 90% of the population speaking Swedish. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain.

2019.04.25 | The Quick Read, Jason Lavery, Minorities, Governance

The Åland Islands

The Åland Islands lie at the south-western tip of the Finnish peninsula between Finland and Sweden. This archipelago of 6,500 islands and skerries is demilitarised, an autonomous region and a Swedish-speaking part of Finland.

Offices of the Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsman in Stockholm. The first Swedish Ombudsman was appointed in 1810. Photo: Riksdagens Ombudsman.

2019.04.25 | The Quick Read, Inken Dose, Governance, Democracy

Ombudsman

Originating in Sweden in 1809, an ombudsman is generally regarded as an official body of complaint which protects individuals against abuses of power and maladministration. Finland and Denmark were the second and third countries to establish an ombudsman, and the idea later spread to the other Nordic countries and further afield. The idea of a…

Gro Harlem Brundtland in April of 2009. Photo: GAD (CC BY-SA 3.0).

2019.03.13 | Biography, Ann Legreid, Governance

Gro Harlem Brundtland (b. 1939)

Gro Harlem Brundtland is an internationally recognised Norwegian politician and environmentalist known for her advocacy of sustainability, public health and human rights. Among a number of public offices, she served as Prime Minister of Norway for ten years.

Sundbyberg's folk high school in Sweden. Photo: Wikimedia, CC0.

2019.03.01 | The Quick Read, Kyle Frackman, Education, Democracy

Nordic folk high schools

Folk high schools are institutions which provide general and vocational education for young people and adults. Based on the philosophy of Danish educator, pastor, and religious revivalist N.F.S. Grundtvig (1783-1872), the first school was founded in Denmark in 1844, but the concept spread to other Nordic countries in the following decades. There…

The Finnish Act on Freedom of the Press from 1766, which included the Principle of Publicity. Photo: © Tryckfrihetsförordningen1766 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

2019.02.27 | Article, Ainur Elmgren, Governance, Democracy

Open government in the Nordics

Open government is intended to ensure transparency, accountability and openness and involves fundamental issues such as press freedom, public disclosure and freedom of information legislation, all key aspects of the administration of Nordic states. These states were amongst the earliest to introduce lauded measures of open government, such as the…

The Himlastegen - or Heaven Steps - in Katrineholm, Sweden which allowed people to safely cross the railway tracks. Photo: Taken in 1950. From a leaflet in Swedish on folkhem by www.sormlandsmuseum.se.

2019.02.25 | The Quick Read, Norbert Götz, Democracy, Nation building

Folkhem

Folkhem, literally meaning ‘people’s home’, is a Swedish term for what is otherwise designated as the Swedish welfare state or the Swedish model. It is even used and discussed in the context of the Nordic welfare state or the Nordic political model, and related ideas are prominent throughout the region (e.g. folkelighed, i.e. popular culture, in…

Historic government district of Tinganes in Tórshavn.

2019.02.25 | Article, Peter Thaler, Governance

Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands (Føroyar) consist of 18 main islands situated halfway between Scotland and Iceland in the North Atlantic. Their combined landmass of 1399 square kilometres is as of 2018 populated by approximately 50,000 inhabitants, of whom more than one-third live in the capital of Tórshavn. While part of the realm of Denmark, the Faroe Islands…

Rudolf Meidner (1914-2005), the Swedish economist. Photo: The Internet archive taken from his 1978 book Employee Investment Funds An Approach To Collective Capital Formation.

2019.02.21 | The Quick Read, John Logue, Economy, Democracy

Wage earner funds in Sweden, 1960s & 70s

The term wage earner fund refers to different models of redistributing profit amongst workers of individual employers or sectors. It is often characterised by the 1975 Meidner’s model which set out that new stocks issued could be paid to funds, which would be administered by a group of directors with advice from trade unions.

The Løgting or Faroese parliament is considered the oldest parliment in the world. It is mentioned in the saga ‘Færeyingasaga’ written in Iceland in around the year 1200, but historians estimate that the origin of the Faroese Løgting can be traced as far back as shortly after the first Norse settlement (landnam) of the Faroes in the year 800. The building is from 1856.

2019.02.21 | The Quick Read, Norbert Götz, Governance, Democracy

Parliamentary culture in the Nordic countries

The Nordic countries have a particular parliamentary culture characterised by consensus and working across party lines. Their parliaments remain influential institutions considering the general trend towards greater executive power. The principles of parliamentary government and universal suffrage were introduced comparatively early in Norden. The…

It is often argued that a smothering state or the market forces of neoliberalism stifle civil society. Residents of Nordic countries remain active, however, although civil society organisations have changed considerably since the hey-day of 'movements' in the nineteenth century. Photo: clothes collection for refugees, Copenhagen Central Station in September, 2015.

2019.02.21 | Article, Norbert Götz, Culture, Democracy

Civil society in the Nordics

The Nordic experience is characterised by an upward spiral of development resulting from a close interconnection between a strong civil society and a strong state. The term ‘civil society’ was initially used in the Nordic countries as an alien concept to denote antagonism to the dominance of the welfare state. From the late 1990s, civil society…

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