Swedish Regional Reform: Party Interest at Stake
In this paper we conduct a contra-factual thought experiment, applying the practice of gerrymandering to the regionalisation process of Sweden. By applying the actual election data from 1998 to 2010, we discuss the various outcomes of four regional models; i) the present system, ii) a realistic scenario of regional reform (a roadmap commissioned by SALAR), and two hypothetical but possible models based on which regional structure would mostly benefit iii) the left-wing parties and iv) the right-wing parties. The overall aim of the paper is to estimate the implications of a regional reform on the political geography of Sweden and to provide instruments for future research on whether and how party interests affect the regional reform process. The analyses also provide fuel for a number of relevant discussions on regional reform and its political outcomes. For example, our results highlight the possible lock-in effects in the present discussions concerning the Stockholm/Uppsala regions, Västra Götaland and Halland/or Värmland, as well as the region of Southwest Sweden. One suggestion is that if citizens are to have long-term confidence in any future regional structure, it should be arranged in such a way that both the left and right wings are satisfied – a double-packing strategy. Such a strategy would make it relatively harder for smaller local/regional parties to affect the political stability of a region. If political stability is pursued, we suggest that the solution of the Wise Men (appointed by SALAR) is more functional than the present structure.
School of Public Administration/Förvaltningshögskolan
Norén Bretzer, Ylva
School of Public Administration Working Paper Series