The SNS Democracy Council 2022 studies democracy at the municipal level

The SNS Democracy Council 2022 analyzes possible and realistic future alternatives with regard to Swedish local democracy. The Council will focus on how to organize processes and institutions to ensure that decisions made by politicians are perceived as legitimate by their constituents.

“A lot of tough priorities and decisions are made on a daily basis in Swedish municipalities. The choice is frequently between bad and even worse alternatives. Furthermore, these decisions are not always viewed favorably by the citizens. In such situations, the processes and institutions related to local democracy need to work sufficiently well so that the citizens view the decisions as legitimate. If not, there is a risk that addressing these problems in the future will be even harder,” says Gissur Ó Erlingsson, associate professor of political science at Linköping University and chair of the SNS Democracy Council 2022.

Municipalities face major challenges in the form of skewed population pyramids, urbanization and structural changes in the business sector and labor market, at the same time as municipal self-government is repeatedly called into question. In addition, Swedish political parties communicate that in many locations, they find it difficult to recruit suitable candidates, who are also able to represent different social groups and different parts of their municipalities.

“SNS has appointed this council to gain more knowledge in terms of how well Swedish local democracy is equipped to address these challenges but also to offer suggestions for reforms in the political system that will increase the ability of municipalities to fulfill their mission,” says Mia Horn af Rantzien, CEO of SNS.

The report will be published in the spring of 2022. The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions contributes to funding this project.

Authors

Gissur Ó Erlingsson (chair), Associate Professor of Political Science, Centre for Local Government Studies, Linköping University

David Karlsson, Professor of Public Administration, School of Public Administration, University of Gothenburg

Jessika Wide, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Umeå University

Richard Öhrvall, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Centre for Local Government Studies, Linköping University, and affiliated researcher at the Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)