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.


Anna Lindh acting as Swedish minister of foreign affairs at an EU signing ceremony in 2003. This treaty welcomed ten new EU members including Cyprus and Estonia. Photo: Jan van de Vel, EC - Audiovisual Service.

2021.05.20 | Biography, Byron J. Nordstrom, Governance

Anna Lindh (1957-2003)

Anna Lindh was a Swedish Social Democratic politician and a rising star within the party. She took an active part in shaping policy regarding the Balkans and EU enlargement, for example, before she was fatally stabbed in 2003.

The statue 'I am Queen Mary' was created by the two artists La Vaughn Belle and Jeannette Ehlers, and erected in Copenhagen in 2018. Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.

2021.01.07 | Article, Niels Brimnes, Governance, Nation building, Aarhus University

The colonialism of Denmark-Norway and its legacies

Overshadowed by British and French Imperialism, the small-scale colonialism of some of the Nordic countries can all too easily be downplayed. From the 19th century, the self-image of the Nordic countries as a group of small, neutral nations has probably perpetuated this misconception. However, Denmark-Norway engaged in a variety of colonial…

Is the bubble of the Nordic Model being shattered by persistent questions over universal welfare and outside forces? Picture: Denny Müller, unsplash.

2020.12.11 | Podcast, Caroline de la Porte, Jonas Felbo-Kolding, Nicola Witcombe, Governance, Globalisation, Public policy, Copenhagen Business School, Aarhus University

The Nordic Model at Risk?: Conversations on Regulation

An ageing population, immigration, tax evasion and incoming foreign workers are frequently cited as threats to the Nordic Model. The universal welfare state is built upon citizens and the state fulfilling their particular roles: the state providing childcare, healthcare and benefits in return for people working and paying their taxes (’the social…

An original copy of the Rome Treaty. Photo: European Commission Audiovisual Service.

2020.10.21 | Article, Jonas Langeland Pedersen, Law, The Nordics in the World, Aarhus University

European Community law in Denmark, 1973-1993

When Denmark became a member of the European Community in 1973, European law was not high on its domestic agenda. It was first and foremost the potential economic benefits of membership that occupied the public consciousness. However, European Community law went on to have explicit consequences for Denmark, but it was not until the late 1980s that…

The Nordic and their various models function in the American political imaginary as blank screens upon which politicians and pundits project justifications for their own versions of the American dream. Photo: CHUTTERSNAP on unsplash (modified).

2020.10.02 | Outlook, Oana Godeanu-Kenworthy, Democracy, Governance, The Nordics in the World

Imagining Nordicity in the American political discourse

The Nordic region is frequently presented in the American media as prosperous and business-friendly, as well as allowing for extensive welfare benefits. US media coverage often positions one or more of the Nordic countries between the monolithic and highly politicized understandings of ‘socialism’ and ‘capitalism’ – with the many shades of mixed…

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 | Film, 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…

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