The first referendum in a regonal council. Photo: Sofia Johansson/Sveriges Radio
Brought about by popular initiative

West Botnia referendum on health budget

In a referendum in the region of West Botnia, or Västerbotten, people are voting on the local health service on Sunday. More specifically they are voting on whether the town of Åsele should have its ambulance back and whether the emergency hospital beds should be returned to the town of Dorotea.

The regional health authorities cut back on these for budget reasons in 2011, and the local community in Dorotea have been occupying the local hospital ever since.

The referendum was made possible through a new law in 2011 that allows for "popular initiatives" to force a referendum, if they manage to get at least ten per cent of the electorate to support the idea of a referendum. Last year, the so called Dorotea Uprising handed over the required 25,000 signatures to the regional health authorities.

The regional Social Democrat Party and Green Party have said that if not at least half of the population in West Botnia turn up to vote, they will ignore the result of the referendum, Swedish Radio P4 reports. There are just over 207,000 people eligible to vote, and some 9000 people had done so already ahead of the election day, Swedish Television News reports.

Åsele, with just under 2,000 inhabitants, and Dorotea, with just under 3,000, are located in the Laplandish inland, while most people in West Botnia live in and around Umeå on the east coast. Political analysts that Swedish Radio Studio one has spoken to have noted that it may be difficult to get the required turnout.

According to Swedish Radio P4, only two of the nine local referendums that have been held due to popular demand, have managed to get a turnout over 50 per cent. Not even the national elections to the European Parliament reaches over 50 per cent.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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