Democracy, governance & law: knowledge on the Nordics by researchers

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.


An overview of the European Reigning Sovereigns and Principal Royals in 1860. Denmark and Sweden are represented in the lower left corner. Photo: Nina Heins, Stiftelsen Nordiska museet (digitaltmuseum.se). CC BY-NC-ND.

2020.09.14 | The Quick Read, Byron J. Nordstrom, Governance

Nordic monarchies

The political systems in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden have evolved over centuries of development as hereditary, ‘democratic,’ constitutional monarchies. (Finland and Iceland are presidential republics.) Today the powers of the crown in these countries are strictly circumscribed, and the duties of the Nordic monarchs largely involve public relations…

Signing of the saltsjöbaden agreement in 1938. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain.

2020.08.17 | The Quick Read, Byron J. Nordstrom, Governance

Sweden’s Saltsjöbaden Agreement

The Saltsjöbaden Agreement was a very influential collective bargaining agreement between employers and employees that was reached in 1938, and a key building block to labor market relations under the long-standing social democrat rule throughout much of the 20th century. Perhaps surprisingly, it is largely based on the parties organizing…

Jan Eliasson in his capacity as United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, giving a speech in Somalia; he has worked on stabilising the country since 1992. Photo: AMISOM Public Information. Public Domain.

2020.07.28 | Biography, Jonathan Pugh, Governance

Jan Eliasson (b. 1940)

Jan Eliasson has been one of Sweden’s most prominent diplomats since as far back as the 1970s. Not only has he served in key roles for the Swedish Foreign Ministry and international organizations, but he is also renowned for his role as a mediator in numerous conflicts. His support for the concept of conflict prevention within the Swedish…

Vestre Landsret in Viborg, Denmark, built in 2014. Photo: Lars Guldager, domstol.dk.

2020.07.14 | Article, Byron J. Nordstrom, Law

The legal systems of the Nordic countries

Constitutions set out the rights of individuals living in the Nordic countries, enshrining fundamental principles, such as full equality before the law and innocence until proved guilty. Contemporary law in the Nordic countries is based on compiled codes and/or comprehensive collections of statutes.

Anna Sandberg is Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen.

2020.06.18 | Video, Anna Lena Sandberg, The Borders of the Nordics, Literature, Democracy

Interview: The relationship between Denmark and Germany: politics and culture since 1800

In this short video, Anna Sandberg, Associate Professor in the Department of English, Germanic and Romance Studies at Copenhagen University, gives an historical overview of the political and cultural relationship between Denmark and Germany over the last 200 years. Their relationship is an important one not least because it is the southern-most…

Family photo taken in 1944 in Helsingfors Finland. After the Second World War, smaller nuclear families became more widespread as a societal model. Photo: Helsingfors Stadsmuseum. CC-BY-4.0

2020.06.03 | Article, Byron J. Nordstrom, Labour markets, Governance

An overview of population trends in the Nordic countries since the Second World War

The Nordic countries have seen a number of important changes to their populations since the end of World War II. Perhaps most notable among these are growth, increased diversity, and gradual aging. Labour migration has also played a role and detailed people registers mean that research of all kinds can be undertaken with accessible and…

The Ingrian flag.

2020.04.28 | Article, Nicholas Prindiville, Governance, The Borders of the Nordics

Ingria and the Ingrian Finns

Ingria is the historic name for the isthmus between the Baltic Sea and Lake Lagoda, connecting modern-day Finland with modern-day Estonia. Today, this region is dominated by the city of St Petersburg. Over the last four hundred years, Ingria has seen numerous invasions, annexations and changes to state boundaries, reflecting the major historical…

The disease of contemporary democracy can be summarised in the famous words of Gramsci: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear”. Photo: Elvis Bekmanis, Unsplash.

2020.02.12 | Outlook, Monica Quirico, Democracy, Nation building

Democracy in the shadow of populism - a Nordic way out?

The “Nordic model” is often presented as a solution to the dominance of neoliberalism and the rise of populism. Populist tendencies within the region, including the reclaiming of nationalist identities and anti-immigration and anti-globalisation sentiment, can often be overlooked by outside observers. Whereas elsewhere economic crises encourage …

From the period 1956-1970, the welfare state model that is known today in Denmark was established and public welfare benefits began to reach many different parts of society rather than just the weakest. Photo: Jason Vosper, colourbox.dk.

2019.10.09 | Video, Peter Yding Brunbech, Governance, Nation building, The Nordic Model

Mini-lecture on the Danish welfare state

Even though the welfare state in the Nordics is under pressure and its design is continously debated, it has rarely been more strongly supported in Danish history. Today, nearly all Danish political parties support the basic welfare society model, and they compete over who is best to secure it. Watch this mini-lecture and hear how, from a…

The modern flag of Iceland, which was adopted in 1918 when Iceland gained independence from Denmark. It was officially recognised in the Law of the National Flag of Icelanders and the State Arms in 1944 when Iceland became a republic. Photo: Public Domain.

2019.09.11 | The Quick Read, Agnes Arnórsdóttir, Nation building, Democracy

History of Iceland, 1840s to the Second World War

Even though Iceland remained under Danish rule, the Icelandic ‘Althing’ was restored in 1845 as a national consultative assembly, and in 1874 the country obtained a constitution giving the Althing its own legislative power. Home rule was introduced in 1904, and in 1918 Iceland became an independent and sovereign state in personal union with…

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