Bilateral cooperation - A changing political world: Creating understanding between Sweden and the Netherlands through the Young Professionals Event

The world is changing rapidly: old perceptions of power are contested and new political forces are on the rise throughout Europe and the world. Except for Sweden, it seemed. Politics in this country seemed to be done peacefully and were even regarded as be boring. Until this year – 2018 a unique year for Swedish politics and society. In September 2018, elections took place. The electoral campaign was intense, with tough debates and striking contrasts between the parties. These resulted in deep tensions between the political blocs during the government formation. Now Swedish politicians had and have to learn to compromise and focus on concrete policies instead of ideological purity. Perhaps the Swedes learn from the Dutch in this sense?

In any case, there is a substantial Dutch and international community in Sweden that is allowed to vote, albeit often only in the municipal and regional elections. However, they are often not so acquainted with Swedish politics, which results in low turnout among these groups. Therefore, we organised a Young Professionals Event for Dutch and international young professionals. We invited them to gain a better understanding of the political situation in Sweden and the upcoming elections in particular. The editor of newspaper The Local, Emma Löfgren, informed the audience in a playful way about Swedish politics. We also invited representatives of several youth wings of political parties. They got into discussion about different hot topics that dominated the campaign. Before the event started, we invited the audience to vote for a party or answer ‘no clue’. Afterwards, we did the same thing. Everybody seemed to have gained a much better idea of the party which they would vote for – which was the greatest win of the evening! Three days later the elections took place, and a long and difficult government formation followed…

Now the process has come to an end, as Sweden has a new government. Moreover, throughout 2018, the concept of Young Professionals Events turned out to be a great success. We organised three of them, and a fourth edition has already taken place in January 2019. We are looking forward to organise more of these events in the new year! Stay tuned via our LinkedIn group and social media accounts. Suggestions for topics of new editions are always welcome.

Brexit and the European elections are two important topics for bilateral cooperation between the Netherlands and Sweden in 2019. New forms of cooperation within the EU will be needed as European countries face similar challenges, such as climate change and migration. The Netherlands and Sweden are leaning towards each other more and more, as was for example shown by the visit of the Dutch Minister of Finance Wopke Hoekstra to his Swedish counterpart Magdalena Andersson (see picture below). Therefore, there is an active role for our Embassy in store in 2019! How to strengthen Dutch-Swedish relations in 2019…? At least by organising more Young Professional Events!

“Voting” for the Swedish elections

A bilateral highlight: Dutch Minister of Finance Wopke Hoekstra meeting his Swedish counterpart Magdalena Andersson to discuss new coalitions within the European Union.