What is the main news today in Umeå, and why does it matter?
The main news today in Umeå is the reaction of local politicians to the national government crisis in Stockholm. If you haven’t been following Swedish politics, here’s what happened in the past 10 days: a group of political parties on the right and the left got together to pass a vote of no-confidence on the center-left Social Democrat-led government and its Prime Minister, Stefan Löfvén. The parties which voted against the government include:
- The center-right Moderates
- The far-right nationalist Sweden Democrats
- The Left Party
- The center-right Christian Democrats
The member parties of Löfvén’s coalition were:
- The center-left Social Democrats (who voted against the no-confidence motion)
- The environmentalist Green Party (who also voted against it)
- The center-liberal Centre Party (who abstained from the no-confidence vote)
- The center-liberal Liberal Party (who also abstained)
According to the constitution, Löfvén then faced a choice: either call for new elections, or resign and try to re-create the government, meaning that the parliament will attempt to agree on someone else as Prime Minister, in what is known as a talmansrunda, a “round for the Speaker of the House”. Löfvén announced this morning that he would choose the talsmansrunda. For the time being, he is still Prime Minister, but only of a caretaker government. If the talsmansrunda fails, then Sweden will have immediate elections anyway.
Umeå politicians spoke out publicly today about the crisis. Perhaps the most immediately relevant observation for Umebor came from Björn Wiechel, a Social Democratic parliamentarian from Umeå and Holmsund. “Government work is paused,” he told Sveriges Radio P4, “which affects many processes that are currently underway in Västerbotten.” Wiechel cited, as examples, re-training courses for people changing jobs due to the pandemic, as well as infrastructure projects. It is important to note that saying that government work is paused is not the same as saying that the government is completely shut down; government offices still function and you can still get services at, for example, the Tax Office (Skatteverket) or Transport Administration (Trafikverket). What are now on pause are projects that the national Social Democrat-led government was planning on implementing before the next scheduled general election, which is due a year from now.
For the most part, parliamentarians representing Umeå have mirrored the views of their party’s leadership. The one exception is Helena Lindahl, of the Centrist Party. Local media, like Västerbottens-Kuriren and P4, have been circling their attention around a post on her Facebook page from before Midsummer, in which she said she didn’t fully agree with her powerful party leader, Annie Lööf. Lööf has said that she’s interested in re-forming the previous government with the Social Democrats, Greens, and Liberals. Lindahl, however, wrote that she was also “open to several different solutions”, including a “broad coalition in the middle”.
If a new government is formed without an election, it may very well enact different policies than the ones that the previous coalition has been championing over the last few years — and this means that you may see changes with regards to some particularly controversial issues, such as rental housing prices, hydroelectric power for rural areas, and policing. If a new government is not formed, then you may very well be voting soon in new parliamentary elections. So, it’s probably smart to start educating yourself about what the political parties are doing right now, and thinking about which parties and candidates you would vote for.
What is the main news today at the university?
The university today announced the publication of a new book by Richard Pettersson, an associate professor in Culture and Media Studies. The book is called Kulturell Turism: En Historisk Översikt och Analys om Kulturarvstum i Sverige (“Cultural Tourism: A Historical Overview and Analysis of Cultural Heritage in Sweden”), and discusses the intriguing idea that tourism isn’t just about going to a place and visiting it; the TV and the Internet also provide a form of tourism nowadays. Cultural heritage, then, “is now found not only in museums or in defined reserves,” the book description says. “Is everything, constantly, tourism or cultural heritage?” it asks.
Pettersson says that the book includes some technical language, but is still accessible to the layperson, especially if you look up some of the references. The book is published by H.Ström and is available on the company’s website.