Friday, 22 August 2008

Greetings from Stockholm!

In Stockholm at the moment for a friend's wedding. It's such a beautiful city. I can't post any pcitures right now unfortunately, but my blog photo on the right was taken in Stockholm a couple of years ago.

I was on tour of the Riksdag (Swedish Parliament) earlier with Jamie and our friend Willie. Don't worry - this isn't about to become a 'everything's better in Sweden because it's a small independent country' type of post. Although, we can certainly learn a lot of lessons from Sweden. I just had to comment on the tour we were given. The woman giving the tour was very forthright in her own political opinions about the changes in Sweden since the right of centre coalition won power two years ago. The phrase 'selling out the welfare state' sticks in my mind!

The system here has some interesting differences to the Scottish Parliament and Westminster. For a start, the elected representatives sit in geographical and not party groupings in the chamber. And the longer you have been in parliament, the nearer the front you get to sit. Also, if an elected member has to be away for a few weeks, the person after them on their party list takes their place in parliament while they are away. Those who have previously served in parliament also have special seats reserved for them on the floor of the chamber.

One thing that was also striking was the level of respect for politicians in Sweden. The woman giving the tour talked of the respect that people have for those who choose to serve in their national legislature, because of the long hours and hard work. I'm sure not everyone in Sweden will hold that view, but it's not something you ever hear back home. The prevailing view of politicians is much more negative.

Anyway, this blogging malarky is eating into my wee holiday. I'm off to treat myself to an ice cream or something.

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