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For Swedes, a Lesson in U.S. Politics

As the presidential race intensifies the U.S. embassy in Stockholm has decided to show off our fabulous democratic system to one of our closest Scandinavian allies: the Swedes.

Late last month, politicians from the four parties which make up the center-right "Alliance of Sweden"--the Moderate Party, the Center Party, the Liberal Party and the Christian Democratic Party--trekked to Washington D.C. and New Hampshire to watch the presidential campaigns in action. The eight officials from Sweden's ruling power got a bipartisan, equal opportunity taste of what's happening on the campaign trail as they visited front runners and long-shot candidates. On Nov. 28 they checked in on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's (R) and Sen. Christopher Dodd's (D-Conn.) operations in New Hampshire as well as Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) team in Concord. On Nov. 29 they visited Sen. Hillary Clinton's (D-N.Y.) D.C. headquarters, as well as the Republican National Committee.

"Our main reason for studying the campaigns and for our visit to New Hampshire and Washington DC was that it is very important for Sweden and Europe to know more about the candidates and what they propose when it comes to policy and leadership," wrote Pär Henriksson, Moderate Party director of communications, in an e-mail. "I think that it is clear that we will see changes in U.S. foreign policy whoever the American voters elects as new president. Therefore it is important for us to know more about the candidates and to know more about the issues that American voters care about."

The group, which also included Center Party Secretary Anders Flanking, Christian Democratic Party Lennart Sjögren and Liberal Party Secretary Erik Ullenhag, was struck by many differences between the U.S. and Swedish style of campaigning, including how much money the candidates are spending and how they repeatedly touted their families on the campaign trail.

Susanne Ahlström, communications manager for the Christian Democratic Party, said in an interview her party would be the best suited to show off politicians relatives because it is based on "family values."

One of the hot button issues in the current contest didn't really resonate with lawmakers from the famously generous social welfare state, according to Henriksson: "I was a bit surprised that immigration was such a big question among the Republican candidates."

But Henriksson added his colleagues were wowed by how American presidential aspirants have been able to mobilize grassroots support and volunteers for their candidacies. "Many of the candidates have also done impressive mobilization on the Internet, which of course is something that we also are trying to do," he said.

--Juliet Eilperin

By Washington Post editors  |  December 7, 2007; 2:19 PM ET
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sweden is the country in Eu that by far take the most immigrants. We have about 20 000 from Iraq per year. This means that we in Sweden takes a lot lot more than any other country. Come to Malmö, stockholm etc etc and you theory about a homogen society will be crused into small fragments

Posted by: bigusdickus66 | December 13, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

It is possible that Senator Clinton is the best candidate. However, even though many may like the policies that Senator Clinton proposes, they should also consider her record, just as Senator Clinton insists.
The last Clinton Administration, when faced with the fact that protection rackets where assaulting, torturing and murdering people with poison and radiation, chose to avoid its responsibilities to incarcerate the criminals and to protect the citizenry.
Instead, they made a deal with the criminal gang stalker protection rackets to leave them alone and to consequently abandon the citizenry.
Do we want a President who sells out the citizenry for votes?
Do we want a President who sends a "crime does pay" message to society?
Would you vote for a President who signed nonaggression deals with the KKKlan or the Nazi party? Gangs that torture with poison and radiation are much like the KKKlan and Nazi Party.
We do not need a sellout President. We need a principled leader President.
If you are one of the few who do not know what the above refers to, do a web search for "gang stalking" to see the tip of the dirtberg. Please do it before you decide to reply to my post. Here let me make it easy for you:

Posted by: avraamjack | December 7, 2007 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Nonetheless, in interest of fairness, I was wrong about Sweden not taking in immigrants, they do, especially asylum seekers.

But one thing is clear, no western country but ours has a broken immigration system that has no clue who is here. We have more illegal aliens than the entire population of Sweden and Norway combined.

Posted by: merganser | December 7, 2007 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Sorry mehuws, you are wrong, check your facts. According to Statistics Sweden, as of April 2007, the total population of Sweden was estimated to be 9,131,425. Of the 2004 population, 1.1 million, or 12%, were foreign-born and approximately 16.7% (1.53 million) had at least one parent born abroad or were themselves born abroad. Seems high. But wait, of the total 1,199,300 foreign born, more than 70% are from Europe or North America. Approximately 425,000 from Middle East, Asia , sub-saharan Africa and South America.

This is 4.6 percent of the population, when makes Sweden as caucasian as New Hampshire!

Posted by: merganser | December 7, 2007 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Wrong!Twenty percent of the Swedes have immigrant background and Sweden has a very generous (too generous)immigration policy and has received thousands of refugees from Irak, Balkan, Chile (in the past) and so on.

Posted by: mehuws | December 7, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Swede states "I was a bit surprised that immigration was such a big question among the Republican candidates."

Bit odd coming from a country that is almost 100 percent homogeneous and from its strict immigration policies, seems to want to stay that way.

Posted by: merganser | December 7, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

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