European Commission questions Swedish voting rules

2:37 min

In Sweden it takes an extra effort to keep your vote secret, compared to many other countries, and now the European Commission is asking the Swedish government to comment on Swedish election praxis.

"When I got into the polling station I simply couldn't believe my eyes" says Christian Dworeck, who moved to Sweden from Germany. He went to vote in the EU election last year.

What he saw was a big table full of voting slips for each party. He could clearly see who people were voting for, by seeing which of the different party ballot papers they took.

If you really want to make sure no one sees who you vote for you have to literally take slips from all the parties - and there can be dozens. This includes at least eight major parties and many small radical, joke or single-issue ones. 

In Sweden there are lots of individual ballot papers because each party has its own list of candidates. That means each party needs a whole slip of its own in order to present the whole slate, this allows people to vote up the lower candidates if they want.

But do the Swedish people even mind people seeing who they vote for?

Amanda Lövkvist at a liberal NGO says the reaction she mainly gets is Swedes saying to her they know they can make their vote secret, but they just choose not to bother hide who they vote for. She says this means those who want to be secret have to make an extra effort - it is their responsibility.

But new Swedish voter Christian Dworeck is not impressed, and he has asked the EU Commission to make sure Sweden is keeping to the rules on everyone's right to keep their vote secret.

The Commission department that keeps an eye on the basic rights of EU citizens has asked Sweden's Justice Ministry to explain what they do to protect the right to secret ballot.

This voting system is also an issue for Amanda Lövkvist at the International Liberal Centre. Her organisation did a survey, which she says, shows there's no privacy for voters. Speaking to Radio Schweden she says the authorities could simply put a screen up and hide people when they're choosing their voting slip.

Christian Dworeck adds that maybe it is mostly people like him coming from abroad who think the system is flawed. But he quotes the Hans Christian Anderson story of the "Emperor's New Clothes" and says maybe only someone with fresh eyes can see how it really is

The Swedish Ministry of Justice will give the EU Commission an answer by the 12th of May.